Title: Grabbers (2012)
Director: Jon Wright
Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey
Every now and again a movie pops up out of nowhere and completely takes me by surprise, Grabbers is one such film, completely fun, completely entertaining. I knew nothing of the Irish monster movie, I simply rented it because the themes and situations are similar to a script I’ve been working on for a while now…and well, I was extremely curious as to how they handled the Lovecraftian elements on this one. That’s right my friends, this is yet another film that plays in Lovecraft’s sand box; Grabbers was obviously influenced by stories like say ‘Dagon’, ‘The Horror at Red Hook’, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ or ‘The Colour out of Space’. This is a film that knows where it’s borrowing from and does it well, any lover of Lovecraft’s particular brand of horror should be pleased with this one for here’s a film filled with many tentacled creatures that come from the stars and take residence in our oceans! What’s more Lovecraftian than that right?
In Grabbers, a meteor falls to the ocean somewhere in the shores of a small fishing community in Ireland and with it comes these blood thirsty creatures that begin to spread throughout the town. It’s up to the town’s drunkard police man and his rookie partner to find a way to put an end to the alien invasion. Thankfully, the creatures have an aversion to alcohol, which means that the best way to stay safe is to be drunk all the time! Will they be able to stop the creatures while being completely blasted?
First off, Grabbers isn’t the most original film you’ll ever see, in fact, you’ll feel like you’ve seen the movie before. To me it felt as if I was watching Stuart Gordon’s Dagon (2001), only told in a much more lighthearted, adventurous tone, kind of like a monster movie from the eighties. In that sense it is very similar to Attack the Block (2011), because it a modern film attempting to evoke those adventurous monster movies from the eighties, with a tinge of nostalgia. Grabbers is a film like Gremlins (1984) where there are monsters terrorizing the town, in fact, there's a whole scene with these little squid like monsters destroying a pub that brought to mind certain images from Gremlins. The story is told in a light tone, with an emphasis on the comedy and the jokes. You know, nothing too scary or frightening. Monster movies have a formula, and so Grabbers kind of fails in the sense that it follows it to a t, which means you kind of know exactly what beats the story is going to be hitting. So things go a bit like this, monster arrives, slowly we signs of its presence, the towns people discover the creatures, they figure out how to kill them and the film ends with a full blown monster vs. the towns people scenario. It also reminded of Tremors (1990), right down to having a scene where the town folk are debating over what they are going to call the creatures they’ve just discovered. So don’t expect anything to original.
Thankfully the film gets many other things right, for example, this idea that you have to be drunk in order to keep the beasties away is awesome because that just means that we’ll have drunk people as protagonists all throughout the film, which when done right can be hilariousl. The films main character is a drunkard police man; so we have what’s called an ‘unreliable protagonist’, the proverbial looser who turns into a hero. In that sense the film felt a bit like Shaun of the Dead (2004), because it has an incompetent individual who suddenly takes charge of things. It is also like Shaun of the Dead because the most pivotal moments end up taking place in or around a pub. So yeah, that whole idea about everyone being drunk was cool, the actors played drunk very convincingly because before the shoot, director Jon Wright took his actors on a drinking spree and taped the whole thing. They then re-watched the footage and used it as reference for their performances, which worked like magic because I’ll tell ya, they played drunk good! They really exploit that Irish ideal of drinking till you pass out! And speaking of Ireland, the film has these really beautiful vistas of Ireland and its shores. I love the way Ireland looks, so cold and gloomy, a perfect setting for a horror movie like this one. To top things off, same as in Dagon, it’s raining for practically the entire film.
Another major plus for the film are the creatures which look amazing! If you’re a fan of Lovecraft and the whole Cthulhu mythos, then you’re going to love this movie because in many ways, it’s the ultimate Cthulhu movie, it reminded me of another obscure fantasy film that also had heavy Lovecraftian influences called Cast a Deadly Spell (1991), which starred Fred Ward in the role of a private detective investigating the theft of the Necronomicon in a 1940’s alternate universe in which magic is real, actually, common place! If you haven’t seen Cast a Deadly Spell and you are a fan of Lovecraft, I recommend checking that one out! Though tonally very different from Cast a Deadly Spell, both films end up with a huge tentacled creature terrorizing the town. Grabbers is the latest of the Lovecraft inspired monster films, and it has the benefit of having modern special effects at its disposal, which is why Grabbers has the best creatures with tentacles I’ve seen in a while, really cool to look at. Bottom line is, Grabbers is a fun, fast paced, lighthearted monster flick, highly recommend it to Lovecraft fans and monster flick fans alike.
Rating: 4 out of 5