Set on the fictional island of Erin off the coast of Donegal, Grabbers is an excellently executed addition to the sci-fi/horror/B-movie canon.
Penned by Kevin Lehane and directed by Jon Wright, it’s easy to see from the start that the duo are massive movie fans. The film tells a story about weird sucker creatures from outer space that feed on the blood of humans and must keep wet at all times. With nods to Jurassic Park, Jaws and Gremlins to name but a few, it ticks all the boxes and all in the magic movie time of 90 minutes. In good Spielberg fashion it takes time with the set up teasing us with small reveals and odd disappearances.
Ruth Bradley plays Garda Lisa Nolan who has come to the island for two weeks as cover for one of the guards. She’s teamed up with Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) who would seem to spend most of his time in various stages of inebriation. Nolan is a poster woman for the force – dedicated and determined and totally committed to the law, while O’Shea is breezing through island life simply passing time hoping for an uneventful life. The pair are a classic example of nice meets gruff but they manage to pull off the roles well, making for a believable relationship. The island is dotted with many characters who are essential to the plot. Most notably is Lalor Roddy as Paddy Barrett, a local fisherman who manages to capture one of the grabbers. He’s fantastic as the old man who many think is useless but has much more going on behind his eyes. David Pearse as the the barman puts in a great comedic performance providing many of the funny one-liners.
The overall look of the film is one of its strongest features. Not only is the CGI flawless and very impressive, the shots of the Irish landscape are visually astounding, especially the red skies at night. All the elements come together brilliantly, the music, cinematography, plot and acting, to give a well-rounded cinema experience. Much has been made of the crux of the story, whereby to survive and not have the grabbers suck your blood you must be drunk. Not the best thing for a nation with such a turbulent relationship with drink. Too much is made of this in the trailer as it makes up little of the film in my opinion, initially I thought it would just be 90 minutes of ones getting pissed in a pub when in reality it’s not even five minutes. The storyline concerning Garda O’Shea’s intake of alcohol also shows the other side of the coin meaning it doesn’t devolve into a film about “shure the Oirish are just all a bunch of drunks, aren’t we great craic”. There are some stereotypes but they don’t pummel you over the head as so many Irish films in the past have done.
It’s a rare treat to see an Irish film thinking as big as Grabbers and managing to pull it off. Hopefully this will herald the beginning of a new outlook for Irish filmmakers. You don’t have to make only poignant and depressing films or stupid begorrah nonsense. They can be fun, self-aware films about monsters from outer space too. A great film with references to the classics of the genre, forget ted, grab this before if goes.
Ireland / Directed By: Jon Wright / Written By: Kevin Lehane / Starring: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy / 94min / Comedy, Sci-Fi / Release: 10 August 2012 (Ireland)