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Featured DVD Review: Grabbers

November 10th, 2013

Grabbers - Buy from Amazon

Grabbers is an Irish / British horror comedy that opened in its native market last summer while it earned a limited release here this summer. Horror comedies rarely do well in limited release and this film wasn't an exception. On the other hand, films like this tend to do relatively well on the home market. Will that be the case? Can this film find a cult appeal on DVD?

The Movie

The film begins at sea on a fishing boat. One of the fishmen watches as a green meteorite streaks across the sky before crashing into the sea. The captain of this ship informs the coast guard that they are investigating a signal flair of an unknown ship, but it soon becomes clear that this was something more than a meteorite.

We then flash forward to morning when a hungover Ciaran O'Shea is getting ready to pick up Lisa Nolan, but he's not exactly happy about that. They are both Garda Síochána, which is the Irish national police. His boss is going away for two weeks and even though the small island of Erin Island is hardly a hotbed of criminal activity, his boss doesn't trust Ciaran to be the lone cop, so he sent for backup. Lisa is much more... sober, than Ciaran is, although Ciaran would likely call her uptight instead. The pair don't exactly hit it off right away.

Meanwhile, we start to see life on Erin Island, which is not as idyllic as it usually is. Firstly, a whole pod of pilot whales have beached themselves. At least that's what it looks like at first. However, as marine environmentalist Dr. Adam Smith points out, they died at sea and then washed up onto the shore. The whales are covered in big gashes, which is certainly a puzzle. Ciaran just needs to get the whales off the beach and calls in a favor to get some industrial equipment. Once the job is done and the sun is setting, the group heads back into town, all except for one straggler who finds some strange spheres partially buried in the sand. He doesn't have a lot of time to investigate them before something grabs him and drags him into the water.

That night, Ciaran is at Maher's, the town's only Pub / Hotel. It is also the place where Lisa is staying while on Erin Island. Ciaran is getting drunk, of course, and gets talking to Paddy. Paddy is convinced he caught a sea monster in his lobster trap that morning, but of course Ciaran doesn't believe him. Paddy's probably the only person on the island who is a bigger drunk that Ciaran is, although Ciaran tries to prove him wrong that night. He gets a little encouragement from Una Maher, the owner of the pub, to hit on Lisa. It doesn't turn out well for him. (Technically she doesn't arrest him, but he does wake up in the drunk tank. He passed out and she didn't know where he lived, so it seemed like the best place to keep him.)

The next morning they are called in by Dr. Adam Smith. Turns out Paddy wasn't lying and he did catch something, something that attacked him during the night. He was able to win, so he brought it in to the only scientist he knows, to see if it is worth any money. While Ciaran and Lisa are there, the good doc explains what he knows about this Grabber (That's the name Paddy has given it.) but he doesn't know a lot. It appears to be similar to the vampire squid, it appears to need just blood and water to survive, and it appears to have been pregnant. Driving by the beach where the whales washed up, they see Declan Cooney's car. Declan Cooney's abandoned car.

A little more investigating later and the pair discover some spoilers, so I'll stop the plot summary there. Actually, I have to give one more spoiler. They learn that while these things only need water and blood to live, if a person's blood alcohol level is too high, their blood becomes toxic. Since there's a huge storm coming and help can't arrive till morning, they decide the best way to survive is to get everyone in the town to the pub and get them really, really drunk. So there you have it. It's a monster movie where the only way to survive is to get really, really drunk. This is not only the quickest way to describe the plot, it is also the easiest way to judge the movie. If your response to that is, "Well, that's just stupid." you should probably move on. If, on the other hand, you're a fan of monster movies, especially the B-movie variety, then there is a lot to recommend here.

First of all, it does have a great premise, or to be more accurate, it has a great twist to an established premise. It uses the Irish setting well with some colorful Irish characters thrown into a typical monster movie. The acting was very strong from the whole cast and there was fun chemistry. The monster design is really well done and despite the relatively low budget (about $6.4 million) is looks great, even when we see it full on. On the downside, outside of the particular alcohol hook, there's not a lot here that's original. Slither, Tremors, Trollhunter, The Host, etc. have all walked down a similar path. However, its the execution that matters and this film nails it. It has a number of tense moments, some great laughs, and never takes itself too seriously. Overall, it's a lot of fun.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is a 17-minute long making of featurette.

The Verdict

Grabbers is a very fun B-movie creature feature and while there are many films in this genre, it is a great example and if you like these movies, this one is worth checking out. There's not a lot of extras on the DVD, but it is still worth picking up over just renting.

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Filed under: Video Review, Grabbers, Lalor Roddy, Richard Coyle, Ned Dennehy, Ruth Bradley, Russel Tovey, Bronagh Gallagher