YEAR RELEASED: 2012
DIRECTOR: Jon Wright
CAST: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey
ANDREW GARVEY reviews “immensely fun” Irish-British horror/sci-fi comedy Grabbers
A British and Irish co-production (it may as well have been made for the Spooky Isles), booze-soaked comedy/horror/sci-fi Grabbers is a massively enjoyable modern monster movie.
The story of Grabbers 2012 opens very promisingly with a trawler full of fishermen meeting their horrible, unseen ends in the dead of night. The next morning, on a remote Irish island Erin, where heavy drinking Garda (policeman) Ciaran O’ Shea represents exactly half of local law enforcement, the other half, Sergeant Kenefick is leaving for a two week holiday. Young Lisa Nolan joins the force, taking a break from her usual, far busier posting in Dublin to help out the unreliable O’Shea.
Russell Tovey, best known for his role as George the werewolf in BBC Three series Being Human is Dr. Adam Smith, the local marine ecologist (surely every tiny island has one) who pronounces a very strange dead creature “something alien… in that it’s undocumented.” Local drunkard Paddy names it a ‘Grabber’, much to Smith’s very prim, proper scientific dismay.
With a storm coming and no prospect of help on the way, it’s up to O’Shea, Nolan, Smith and Paddy to protect everyone on the island from yet more Grabbers in the most unusual and, liver-damaging of ways, aided only by their own slightly drink-addled wits, teamwork and a pitiful array of so-called weapons.
Richard Coyle (O’ Shea) and Ruth Bradley’s (Nolan) blossoming ‘unlikely’ romance might be the most well-trodden of clichés but it’s sweetly, effectively done. And best of all, they, and plenty of the film’s other characters actually behave like real human beings in the face of extreme danger. They bicker, they panic, they need a piss at inopportune moments and they put themselves in mortal danger to get a good picture for Facebook.
Considering the meagre budget of some £4 million the special effects are excellent, both CGI and practical, much more effective and polished than some films with vastly bigger budgets. The body count pleasingly is high while action sequences are ludicrous but exciting. The script is great fun, full of genuinely funny lines and superb slapstick action. There’s also plenty of nods and references to a host of monster movies, including Night of the Living Dead, Alien, Aliens, Gremlins and Tremors.
Leading man Coyle (who regularly stole the show in fondly remembered BBC Two sitcom Coupling) and Bradley are hugely likable, the latter stealing the show with a great drunk performance and director Jon Wright does a great job in only his second feature film. Watch out for his upcoming sci-fi film Our Robot Overlords next year.
A quick Googling of the two titles together shows plenty of other people have compared it to Shaun of the Dead. And they’re not far off. It’s not as good, but Grabbers is immensely fun with a few scares along the way.
ANDREW GARVEY lives in Staffordshire. He writes (infrequently) about mixed martial arts, professional wrestling, history, horror and folklore. Follow him on Twitter: @AMGarvey Check out more Andrew Garvey articles for the Spooky Isles here.