Movie Review: Grabbers


The inhabitants of a picturesque Irish island are attacked by monster aliens.


Jon Wright, 2012

Just off the coast of the beautiful fishing village on Erin Island, strange things are afoot. A boat full of fishermen die mysteriously while out to see, dead whales appear on shore, and weird eggs start showing up on the beach. Meanwhile, Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) arrives in town, hoping that volunteering to work on a remote island for a while will give her clout with her bosses back home. Initially her bubbly persona meets resistance from Garda Ciaran O’Shea (Jeff from Coupling Richard Coyle), a pessimistic alcoholic who shows up hungover to work on a daily basis. They meet flirtatious marine biologist Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey) on the beach while investigating the death of a whale that seems to have been attacked, and soon drunken fisherman Paddy (Lalor Roddy) gives them something more than just their personal differences to worry about: a tentacled creature that attacks people and drains their blood. There’s only one thing that seems to stop them, and that’s drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Dr. Smith is fascinated, but Lisa and Ciaran are a little more pragmatic about it, and they gather the town in the pub to try to avoid getting slaughtered.


This is a fun little indie outing from Ireland that looks fantastic for its budget. The creature CGI is astonishing, and the whole film has a slick look that makes it enjoyable to watch even when it takes a long time to get going. For a horror creature feature, it’s an oddly gentle, toothless affair. It’s occasionally funny, particularly when the twist kicks in and the action heats up, but it’s not quite as funny as you’d expect from a horror comedy (and less funny than a few “straight” horror movies I’ve seen). A few of the deaths are suitably scary, but there’s a lot less death than you’d expect. Mostly it’s just a pacing issue; while it’s nice to get to know your characters before the death and destruction starts, it seems like the movie doesn’t get into its groove until everybody but Ciaran’s completely sloshed. The central concept is a solid one, and it plays out really well.

It’s fun to watch Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley go on opposite character trajectories to meet somewhere in the middle. While workaholic Lisa learns to loosen up and open up, alcoholic Ciaran becomes more dependable and intelligent as he sobers up. Ruth Bradley is downright effervescent as Lisa, whether she’s getting incredibly drunk, kicking alien ass, or working on a case. Russell Tovey is fun as well, his scientist proving arrogant but adorable. There’s a lot of able support from terrific Irish characters actors, particularly Bronagh Gallagher as the local bartender. The movie’s not quite as much of a cult classic as the similarly conceived high school horror The Faculty (seriously, go check it out, it’s kind of brilliant), but you could do a lot worse as far as horror movies go, and it really looks great.

Grabbers on IMDb


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