Toronto After Dark Review: Grabbers
It is a little difficult not to think of films such as Tremors when watching the delightful Irish horror-comedy Grabbers. They both proudly express their love for the creature feature genre and the oddball characters that exist within it. This is one of the main reasons they are immensely enjoyable to watch. While Grabbers may not always reach the heights of Tremors, it does come close.
One night a meteor crashes just off the shore of the quaint Erin Island. The next morning a slew of fishermen are missing and the shore is littered with dead whales. A local cop Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and a Dublin cop, Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley), filling in for O’Shea’s sergeant who is away on vacation, are entrusted with solving the case. Soon the pair are working with the town marine biologist Smith (Russell Tovey) in an attempt to figure out what exactly killed the whales?
Fortunately for them, a local fisherman, the perpetually drunk Paddy (Lalor Roddy), has already cracked a major piece in the case. Paddy accidently captured a squid like creature which he named a “Grabber”. Dr. Smith’s research uncovers that the Grabber survives on water and blood. However, it is only when the Grabber attacks O’Shea, a functional alcoholic, does it becomes apparent that alcohol seems to be the one thing that Grabbers cannot tolerate. With a large number of Grabbers secretly terrorizing the island, O’Shea and Nolan must figure out how to get the unsuspecting residents as drunk as possible.
Setting the film on an Irish island and using drunkenness as the ultimate weapon against evil is an inspired choice. Director Jon Wright is able to mine several great comedic moments by embracing the silliness of the premise. There is a great scene early on in the film where a Grabber uses one of its victims like a marionette puppet to lure other potential victims out of their home. It is moments like this, and when O’Shea and Dr. Smith are vying for Nolan’s affection, that provide Grabbers with their biggest laugh out loud moments
Despite having plenty of laughs to entertain, the film does feel a tad clunky in the last act. Wright seems to struggle a bit when trying to juggle both the numerous town characters at the bar and the build up to grand finale. Certain characters, most notably Dr. Smith, seem to get lost in the shuffle. As a result, when key events happen they evoke very little reaction out of the audience. Fortunately though, the first half of the film is so entertaining that it makes up for some of the films shortcomings in the latter half.
Grabbers also benefits from having wonderfully designed creatures. The way the Grabbers look and move are extremely well done. There is a fluidity in the visual effects that meshes perfectly with the overall look of the film. While the Grabbers may not be as terrifying as the creatures in Attack the Block, they still manage to be far more memorable than some of the other more recent creatures found in this genre.
The strong visual effects coupled with gleefully silly comedy makes Grabbers an entertaining film that will surely please audiences.