“It’s the quiet places where all the mad shit happens”.
Director Jon Wright’s Grabbers is a good old-fashioned monster B movie. Good in the sense that it takes its time to introduce its characters (it’s genuinely likeable characters). Good in the sense that it has a no-nonsense pleasingly simple plot that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Good in the sense that it doesn’t outstay its welcome, and, above-all, good in the sense that its two main leads aren’t played by Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. In fact, the only element that’s not old-fashioned about Grabbers is the excellent CGI creature effect work which given the film’s modest budget puts some major studios efforts to shame.
A meteor crashes into the sea off the coast of Erin Island, a sleepy Irish fishing village. A fishing boat (fatally) mistakes it for a distress flare. An old man out walking his dog along the shore comes across the sight of a pod of dead Pilot whales washed ashore and a local fisherman catches a strange kind of lobster and puts it in his bathtub…
The three main leads that are set for a close encounter of a most undesired kind with this nasty beastie are Richard Coyle – delivering a more than passable Irish accent as local Garda officer ‘O’Shea (an alcoholic); Ruth Bradley as the seconded from the mainland Garda officer ‘Nolan’ (a workaholic); and a pompous English so-called scientific expert, ‘Dr Smith’ played by Russell Tovey. Coyle and Bradley play the ‘opposites-attract’ dynamic with panache and Tovey heartily throws himself into the comedy mix as the English now-it-all. Ably supported by some fine Irish character actors (including Bronagh Gallagher from The Commitments). There is some nice character-driven humour before the real monster mayhem takes over. The culmination of which leads to the discovery that the creature is allergic to alcohol – result: the entire village is invited to a lock-in where the basic instruction is get pissed or get eaten.
The creature and its offspring are nicely rendered by effects company Nvizible, with the main monster being a seething mass of rotating tentacles. The scope cinematography is nicely employed both as a means of capturing the picture-postcard natural beauty of the coastal vistas and in then jarring the tranquillity with pans that reveal dead whales on the shore, or ominous eggs nestling in the sand…
It has been mentioned that the best way to view Grabbers is after a pint or two; I would humbly suggest it’s by no means a necessary requirement to enjoy this modest but lovingly crafted creature-feature.
First published on Fleapits & Picture Palaces.