Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alcohol is the Answer

Grabbers (2012)
Director: Jon Wright
Seen via: Netflix Instant
Rating: 6.5 / 10

What better way to defeat a blood-sucking monster than to render your blood inedible? When mysterious pods of slime wash up on a rural Irish isle and start hatching vicious little octopods, the inhabitants seem screwed. Monsters are hatching faster than they can be squashed and there are far too many townsfolk to evacuate before nightfall. The residents have only one solution: get so drunk that their blood-alcohol content turns them into walking sacks of poison.

(With a premise like this, do I need to mention that Grabbers is a horror comedy?)

Grabbers follows local alcoholic police officer CiarĂ¡n O'Shea (Richard Coyle) throughout his daily "work" on the isle of Erin. Life on the island is dull enough that he's able to bumble through most days rat-ass drunk without incident. Leave it to the somewhat uptight visiting officer Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) to throw a wrench into the works. She's assigned to fill in for a vacationing sergeant and her overeager optimism seems like O'Shea's worst nightmare. But as townsfolk start disappearing and the two realize that something strange is occurring, they'll have to learn how to reconcile their differences if they hope to survive.


Despite a somewhat slow start, Kevin Lehane's script gains momentum quickly. There's nothing terribly original here, but it's a great example of a snappy horror-comedy that follows the creature-feature formula with a few turns along the way to make it feel fresh. The dynamics between O'Shea and Nolan sustain the film when the plot can't, and the introduction of the uppity young scientist Dr. Smith (Russell Tovey) and the incoherent old drunk Paddy (Lalor Roddy) are welcome additions to the colorful cast. Yes, they're all pretty thickly drawn archetypes, but the film makes good use of them and stays engaging.

The highlight is by far the final act, in which an impromptu gathering is thrown by the officers in an attempt to inoculate the town with booze while keeping them unaware that there are monsters creeping in from the shore. While the naive Lisa encounters drunkenness for the first time to serve as a control in their booze-as-a-weapon experiment, O'Shea has to battle sobriety to ensure that the massive rager down at the pub doesn't get too out of hand. The tables having been turned, mayhem is ready to ensure as the mother of all the tiny grabbers approaches...


Director Jon Wright has crafted a fun, lighthearted comedy that hits all the right notes. While somewhat one-dimensional, the relationship between Lisa and O'Shea deepens a little as each forces the other to confront the gaps in their lives. But in case you're worried, the film doesn't skimp on the carnage, which is rendered in a mix of CG and practical effects (both well done). Grabbers is a good time, and I was pleasantly surprised after deciding to check it out on a whim. There are quite a few honest laughs here - even without a drink of your own on hand (but why chance it?).

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