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2012 | 94 min | BBFC: 15 | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 19 July, 2013
 26 December, 2012

Country of origin

 United Kingdom



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Grabbers Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, July 18, 2013

The monster movie tradition receives a delightful Irish makeover in “Grabbers,” a fast and funny horror comedy that finds a fresh angle to play in a subgenre that’s always in need of a change of pace. Led by marvelous performances from stars Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley, director Jon Wright locates a specific position of insanity to play and commits in full, making the small-scale adventure feel significant while securing a healthy number of laughs during the ride. It’s cheeky and reverential, keeping the creature feature alive with a glass-clinking tilt, trading Americanized mayhem for Irish wit, a few close encounters, and plot that actually finds a way to celebrate binge drinking.

On Erin Island, Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) has arrived to help cover local law enforcement duties while the chief is on vacation. Put in charge is Garda Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle), a drunk who doesn’t take his professional responsibilities seriously, finding himself attracted to Lisa, but unable to express interest without looking like a sloppy fool. As the pair work out their temporary partnership, trouble has arrived from outer space in the form of a squid-like creature out to gobble up the local townsfolk. With the help of Dr. Adam (Russell Tovey), Lisa and Ciaran define the threat, discovering the creature (dubbed the “grabber”) doesn’t attack humans with alcohol in their system. Out to protect the community, the cops arrange for a party with free booze, keeping everyone indoors and blotto while they figure out a way to get rid of the menace and its persistent spawn.

Most monster movies focus on diverse displays of panic as a ghoulish threat escalates to significantly more upsetting levels of bodily harm. “Grabbers” would rather focus on the consumption of alcohol, making the picture unique when it comes to the cinematic pastime of humans resisting an alien invasion. Credit screenwriter Kevin Lehane for the corker of a premise, which has fun with Irish stereotypes and locales, keeping the characters isolated yet surprisingly matter-of-fact when it comes to the reality of the grabbers and their rising threat. “Grabbers” has specialized tone that needs constant attention, yet the balance between the silly and the scary is managed with care by Wright, who understands the demands of the subgenre and plans accordingly, keeping the grabber a gooey, mouthy menace, yet sustaining lightheartedness to the effort.

“Grabbers” is immense fun, with a clearly defined community atmosphere to ease the action along. As Lisa and Ciaran do their rounds, the screenplay introduces the local folk, entrenched islanders who aren’t exactly sure what to make of the grabber invasion, with local fishermen discovering eggs on the beach, while a mass beaching of whales causes concern but not alarm, allowing the invasion to carry on in secret. In the midst of the clues and scientific research, there’s a love story blossoming between the new partners, who warm to each other as the film unfolds. Despite their considerable age difference (15 years), Coyle and Bradley share wonderful chemistry, making romantic interests plausible, even celebratory as Lisa allows her feelings to peek through her procedural veneer. However, Wright and Lehane don’t drown the picture in syrup, instead using the connection as a reminder of the human elements in play, preventing “Grabbers” from becoming just another visual effects romp.

The drunken defense angle to the material is novel, at least when stacked up against similar epics. The quest to soak the community in free alcohol makes up the final act of “Grabbers,” shifting the antics from careful tonal movement to more of a romp, with a massive grabber tasting a few of the locals (the beast leaves severed heads behind), while its spawn brings out a “Gremlins” vibe as the little larvae take over the bar, tearing up the joint. There’s also an issue with tolerance, as Lisa’s a teetotaler who receives a severe education in the power of the pint, allowing the feature to acquire its largest laughs. Bradley plays the pie-eyed liberation splendidly.

“Grabbers” is certainly routine, yet Wright and Lehane manage to disrupt the norm with their pleasant sense of humor and imagination for self-preservation. Their creativity shines throughout the movie, sustaining the pleasures of the picture all the way to the final frames.

Starring: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Bronagh Gallagher, Ned Dennehy, Stuart Graham
Director: Jon Wright

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