When fans are raving about horror movies from countries outside of the United States, those movies typically hail from places like Japan, France or Italy. But it’s a movie from Ireland that’s been garnering a whole lot of praise on the festival circuit in the past year, a country that isn’t exactly known for being a leading exporter of horror films. That film is Grabbers, and after premiering at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Irish horror flick was quietly released On Demand here in the states on July 19th, courtesy of IFC Midnight.
In Grabbers, a peaceful Irish island is invaded by giant plasma sucking sea aliens, leaving a bloody path of destruction in their wake. In a fun and quite Irish twist on the familiar concept of monsters taking over a small town, the locals soon realize that the creatures are allergic to alcohol, prompting them to ride out the invasion in the local pub, making sure that there’s as much alcohol in their blood as is humanly possible. Think of it like Speed, only in order to survive, they have to keep their BAC above the legal limit. Brilliant? I may be a few shots of Irish whiskey deep as I type this, but I don’t think you’ll disagree with me when I say yes, that’s quite a brilliant set-up for a horror movie!
It’s hard not to compare Grabbers to Shaun of the Dead, as it seems to set out to do for tentacled sea monsters what Shaun did for zombies. Does it succeed? Well, I’m not sure it’s as loveable or will achieve quite the same cult status, but it’s pretty damn entertaining nonetheless, of that I am sure of!
Much like Shaun of the Dead, the strong suit of Grabbers is the characters, most notably the two police officers whose love story serves as the beating heart of the film; officer O’Shea and officer Nolan, the former an alcoholic and the latter a clean cut workaholic. In what will possibly be a turn off to those looking for nothing more than a monster filled good time, the majority of the film’s run-time is focused on the budding relationship between the two officers, a genuinely romantic and sweet little love story that you probably wouldn’t expect from a horror-comedy about blood drinking alien sea creatures. I sure didn’t, and I personally found myself falling for those characters, as they found themselves falling for each other.
Lovey dovey side plots aside, Grabbers is also full of the humor and monster action that you’re likely looking for from it, with both baby monsters and one big ass pissed off Queen squid-bitch wreaking havoc on the quaint seaside island. The monsters are mostly brought to life through CGI, a decision that I normally frown upon, me being a massive practical effects aficionado. That being said, the visual effects in Grabbers are incredibly impressive, completely putting to shame every giant monster movie the Syfy network has put out in the past several years. Never once did I find myself noticing the CGI or rolling my eyes at it, which is something I can rarely type in the reviews of CGI heavy movies that I write up. Especially impressive considering the film was made for around 6 million bucks.
Is it as laugh out loud funny or gory as I personally would’ve liked it to be? No, its not. But again, it’s the loveable drunken characters that make Grabbers so much fun to watch, who find themselves in a situation where they have to be drunk to survive, and yet can’t accomplish simple survival tasks…because they’re so bloody drunk. Particularly entertaining is Ruth Bradley as Lisa Nolan, one of the most charming characters in recent years who becomes all the more charming when she gets drunk off her ass, for the first time in her life. Every scene she’s in is a pure delight to watch, which is why it’s a good thing that she’s one of the main focal points of the movie!
Grabbers is hands down one of the most entertaining creature features in recent years, a movie that I would absolutely love to kick back and watch with a rowdy audience at some point in the near future. It’s that kind of movie at the end of the day, a fun and fast paced romp that’s bolstered by strong performances, well written characters and a surprisingly big heart.
Invite some friends over, pour yourself a pint and look for Grabbers On Demand. I can promise you you’ll have a blast, especially if you’re getting blasted in the process!