|Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction
Forward Films, High Treason Productions, Irish Film Board
August 10th, 2012
Release length: 1:34:00
Grabbers takes place on an island off the coast of Ireland. Before you know it, a meteor falls to earth, crashing into the waters around it, and not too far from a fishing boat. When looking for what the object was, the crew is attacked by the alien creature that was aboard the chunk of rock. The next day, all seems calm, and the island police (or Garda) welcome Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) to the ranks. Work is being done around the island near the beach, and some of the crew are picked off as the sun sets, and the garda visit the local bar. Lisa, who is here only for a short time, gets a visit in her room by a drunk Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle). Meanwhile the creatures attack couple in their home, and the kind of off-his-rocker town drunk Paddy Barrett (Lalor Roddy), who manages to beat it down.
The creature is brought to Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey), who is joined by Ciaran and Lisa, and they discuss what it is. Paddy continues calling it a grabber, defending his right to name it since he’s the one who “discovered” the thing. Dr. Smith reveals the creature is female due to the lack of genitals, and the size of the egg he found inside it. After debating if these had to do with the recent dead whales, the other three explore the potential nesting site for the possible second grabber. Not only do the trio stumble upon a cave near the water, finding more eggs, as well as the larger male of the species. After escaping and returning to the doctor’s office, the sprinkler system is activated. After a brief battle, the group learns that alcohol is lethal to these beings. With a storm coming, and the creatures only needing blood and water to survive, they bribe the townsfolk to the local bar, offering free drinks, and plotting to kill the babies and the male.
The alcohol element is really the only more original aspect of the film. Much of Grabbers seems like a mix between The Thing, Shaun of the Dead and the Cthulhu mythos. The story itself is paced well enough, though feels like a few important scenes were cut, and what jokes or one-liners exist all feel natural and not forced to fit the situation. The final stand in the bar seems a bit long winded though. On top of that, there are plenty of times when the character Una Maher (Bronagh Gallagher) does seem thrust into conversations, and rarely does it work for comedic effect. While not obnoxious, she just offers absolutely nothing to the story at all other than eat up time. It’s as if someone decided to devote a good deal of screen time to an extra after filming started.
The acting itself is pretty good as well, and helps to keep the story a little lively. It’s paced well, but there’s nothing that really stands out, especially given some of the plot holes and ignored events. This leaves the interaction between characters vital. What tension there is between Ciaran and Lisa is fleshed out well enough when necessary, and the reason Ciaran usually has a drink in hand makes you feel for the character a little more. Of course there’s the banter and bickering between Paddy and the bar owner Brian Maher (David Pearse) that always leads to some good insults. Even when drunk, everyone comes off rather believable, though Dr. Adam Smith does seem to overplay it a bit at times before he gets too wasted and stumbles out the door to photograph the male later in the film, and the fact that Lisa Nolan’s character never drank also leads to what really comes off as overacting when it first happens.
One thing that was infuriating about Grabbers was the use of computer graphics. The female grabber is mostly a puppet when in Dr. Adam Smith’s office, but nearly every other one in the film is digital. Even during the bar scene when the newly hatched ones break in and wreak havoc similar to Gremlins II. They’re all computer generated except for one. Yes they do look more realistic than the male, but when puppetry is used, they look far more believable, as do the reactions of the cast. When you compare the battle in the doctor’s office to any other scene, you can’t help but feel slightly cheated due to the lack of practical effects.
Grabbers is a fine example of what Ireland has to offer in the line of Horror, though far from the best. The story is paced well enough, but rarely has anything too unique or attention grabbing. That is left solely to the jokes, likeable characters, and the interactions between them. There is plenty of familiar territory to be found here, including Night of the Living Dead playing on a television early on. No, you won’t wish you were watching that instead, but you definitely will crave more tension, especially towards the end when the only people who die end up being set up in the most obvious of manners. With all that said, Grabbers is still worth checking out if the price is right.
|Overall Score: 6.5/10