Presumably the first Irish monster movie to make it to cinemas, Grabbers will make you laugh, cry and squirm.
Grabbers takes place on the fictional Erin Island where chirpy, hard-working Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) is filling in for an officer on holidays, much to the disgust of Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle), a bad tempered alcoholic. However, they must work together to combat creatures from the sea which are attacking the locals.
Recent comedy horrors such as Shaun of the Dead have set the bar high for this dual-genre. See also Black Sheep. Grabbers excels in its comedic execution, using Irish idioms, attitudes and mannerisms to create their laughs. It doesn’t try too hard, and even the funniest one-liners are those delivered with subtlety. The comedic timing of the actors is noteworthy, all of whom are impressive in their roles, from the island’s doctor (Pascal Scott), to the oh-so-English marine biologist (Russell Tovey), to the alcoholic Garda O’Shea.
Speaking of alcohol, there sure is a lot of it in this film. If you haven’t seen the trailer, then spoilers ahead, because alcohol is a major plot point. The theme of alcohol creates a strange dichotomy wherein all those silly, dangerous, illogical things characters do in horror films which cause rage in more pragmatic viewers is instantly rationalised because they’re blind drunk and as such are oblivious to the monster threat. However, Garda O’Shea is pointedly shown to be an alcoholic from the start. He flaunts his alcohol abuse openly and the town seems to accept it. At one point he decides to not drink anymore, because alcoholism is easy to get over, apparently.
The concept of drunkenness as protection is one of the only blots on an otherwise good film. Whether overseas viewers will find it as funny as those used to the gregarious Irish way of life remains to be seen. Bronagh Gallagher (The Commitments) is fantastic as always, playing Una Maher, the cheeky landlady of the only pub on the island, and Bradley’s performance will have you laughing more the drunker she gets. The only let down is Garda O’Shea. Coyle himself is good as ever, but his character is the worst written of the cast. His only personality trait is “alcoholic” and that’s not funny. It’s not even scary.
Last but not least, the CG. Much time and effort were put into the post-production and it shows. The creatures are grotesquely designed, in a good way, and they succeeded in their monsters looking terrifying. Any more information would be a spoiler, unfortunately.
The scary parts are scary and the funny parts are funny, which is all you can ask of a film like this. If your faith in Irish cinema needs restoring, Grabbers is a fine way to get pulled back in. Watch the trailer.