out of Five
Running time: 94
Grabbers is a hugely enjoyable, frequently funny creature feature that plays like an Irish version of Tremors, thanks to a witty script, decent special effects, great characters and a pair of terrific performances from Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley.
What's it all about?
Directed by Jon Wright, Grabbers stars Richard Coyle as Ciarán O'Shea, a booze-soaked small-town cop (Garda) on the tiny community of Erin Island (off the coast of Ireland), who's less than thrilled by the arrival of perky, super-enthusiastic Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) to take up a relief job at the station. However, the pair are thrown together when a trawler is attacked and a group of mutilated whales wash up on the beach, mystifying pompous marine biologist Dr Smith (Russell Tovey).
Meanwhile, drunken fisherman Paddy (Lalor Roddy) hauls up a mysterious, blood-sucking, tentacled creature in his net and when he brings it to Dr Smith, Ciarán and Lisa realise that what attacked the whales must be a much larger version of the same creature, so they try to protect the islanders without causing a panic. Fortunately, they discover that the creature is allergic to alcohol, so the solution is
simple: get everyone pissed at the local pub and have a lock-in while they try and capture the monster.
Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley deliver charming, likeable performances and make a terrific onscreen duo, sparking genuine chemistry together: Bradley, in particular is extremely funny, especially when her (teetotal) character is required to get drunk. There's also colourful support from Tovey, Roddy and David Pearse and Bronagh Gallagher as the landlord and landlady of the island's only pub.
The witty script crackles with quotable dialogue (“T'is no feckin' lobster!”) and there are several hilarious sight gags and one-liners, along with a number of knowing references to other creature features (Tremors, Slither, Gremlins, etc) and horror classics (e.g. Night of the Living Dead is playing on a TV at one point). The creature effects are excellent too, though the film is missing the time-honoured splatter scene (where a creature explodes into lots of icky bits) and you suspect the climax was originally intended to have one, before opting for something else instead.
In addition, Wright keeps things moving at a decent pace and the film is stunningly shot throughout, with cinematographer Trevor Forrest making terrific use of the island locations: an early shot of Ciaran and Lisa arriving on the beach just after sun-up is breathtakingly beautiful.
Grabbers is a hugely enjoyable creature feature with a superb script, great special effects, likeable characters and a pair of terrific comic performances from Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley (so good, in fact, that they deserve a spin-off TV series). Highly recommended.