Grabbers — Review

When I review films, I tend to pick ones that are fairly obscure, so as to avoid joining in the din of internet yakking about popular, well-known movies. I hope that other, like-minded people (ie, those who love creature features and other “hidden gems”) will appreciate the recommendations, and maybe find a new movie to enjoy.

And I like to let my snark out every now and then. Keeps it well-honed.

Today’s review is for Grabbers, a little UK/Irish indie film from 2012. (That’s GrabBER, not to be confused with GrabOID from Tremors. Which is another great series of movies that I’ll try to get around to reviewing.)

Want the plot in a nutshell? Multi-tentacled, blood-starved alien creatures land near Erin Island and proceed to nosh on anything they come across—man and beast. But seems that alcohol is their Kryptonite, meaning the only way to keep them from draining you dry is to be drunk. Very, very drunk.

That’s pretty much it.

So let’s talk about our main players in this alien-vampire-octopus romp.

Our merry band of drunken heroes.
Our merry band of drunken heroes.

Starting from the far left, there’s Paddy, the town drunk who finds the first Grabber in a lobster trap and brings it into his bathtub with the intent to sell it on eBay. (That plan hits a snag when the thing escapes from the trap and attaches itself to Paddy’s face.)

Next is Una, the take-no-crap wife of Brian Maher, who’s standing next to her. They own the pub where everyone will take refuge later in the film.

The dude front and center is Ciarán O’Shea, the resident cop who, incidentally, is an alcoholic (stemming from a bad breakup). To his right is Lisa, the straight-laced, completely by-the-book cop who arrives at the beginning of the film, a temporary replacement for Ciaran’s boss, who’s going on vacation for 2 weeks. Next is Dr. Adam Smith, a scientist studying marine life, and overall know-it-all.

Last is Father Potts, and I’m honestly not quite sure why he’s on this poster, as he’s not exactly a big player in the film.

Anyway, with the exception of Father Potts, these people are pretty much the only ones you need to keep track of.

So monsters splash land on our little planet, and make a beeline to Erin Island to eat and breed. Their genetic makeup means they only need 2 things to survive—water (to keep their bodies moist) and blood. Alcohol burns their sensitive creepy-crawly skin, and doesn’t sit well in their tummies.

Now, you would think, given the premise, that this would be a pretty one-joke movie. “Stay drunk to survive” just screams “Movie full of drunk people doing slapstick or basically acting stupid” gags. Well, you really won’t find that here, surprisingly. And, spoiler alert, just about everyone lives, which is a change of pace from other movies of this type. Usually anyone who drinks is done in pretty quickly and messily by the hungry creature. Not so in this little flick.

Once our intrepid band of heroes put the pieces together and realize that the Grabbers can’t hold their liquor, they spring to action. Seems a pretty nasty storm is heading in, meaning the Grabbers—or, more specifically, the GIANT male who’s always looking for a free meal and some action—will be heading to town to satisfy these urges. The cops lure the locals to the pub and encourage all to drink as much as they possibly can. Hey, even Father Potts can’t turn away free booze!

Soon the entire town is toe-up, but, being Irish, they’re a pretty damn happy bunch. Singing songs, laughing, and just basically reveling in their oblivious-ness to the giant tentacled monstrosity that’s making its way toward them.

The performances in this are very good, with likable characters you care about. There isn’t much backstory to any of them, which usually makes for very 2-dimensional, flat, boring characters, but it works in this. The movie gives you enough to have a basic idea of who these people are, without bogging you down with unnecessary details and pointless angst.

The effects are excellent, and the creature design is believable. They look and behave in a very organic manner, which adds to their creep-factor. Many creature features want to create the biggest, most deadly-looking thing—with teeth that don’t fit in its mouth, and claws that are so long they’re hardly practical. This is simply a writhing mass of tentacles that all lead to a big, round mouth full of sharp teeth. A long, proboscis-like tongue shoots out to stab and drain the blood from the victim, making this part leech, part sea urchin, part octopus. All ugly.

Bottom line: this is a really fun movie, with enjoyable characters, dialog, and great special effects. I gladly recommend it.

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