Grabbers (2012) (DVD review).

Erin Island is the mythical and poetical name for Ireland itself but in this case, it’s a small island off Ireland’s West Coast, a quaint little place exactly where you would expect to see Father Ted if he, God rest his soul, was still alive. Instead, it’s the setting for a horror comedy brimming with Irish characters and a splurge of monsters from outer space.


‘Grabbers’ is directed by Jon Wright and written by Kevin Lehane and we’ve got Richard Coyle as Ciaran O’Shea the alcoholic Garda policeman in charge on the island. To say he likes a drink is an understatement and the number of bottles lying about would easily fill any bottle bank. Lackadaisical maybe describes his nature but coming off the ferry is Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) who plays everything by the book. Prim and proper, she doesn’t drink, smoke or go out with men, especially the likes of O’Shea with his drunken advances.

Meanwhile, a brilliant shooting star flashes through space above the island and ditches into the sea. The crew of a fishing boat, witnessing the event, go to investigate but are swallowed up by a monster from under the water. Later, lots of small whales appear ditched on the seashore, savagely hacked to pieces by some sort of creature. Investigating the deaths is marine biologist Dr Adam Smith played by Russell Tovey, a straight talking Englishman. However, I think the star of the entire movie is fisherman Paddy Barrett (Lalor Roddy), who ambles his way about the proceedings with Irish charm and plenty of alcohol. Not just any alcohol, he has small green bottles of illicitly produced firewater, something that burns itself all the way down to the boots.

We soon discover that there is a large multi-tentacled monster with lots of smaller offspring slithering around. They drink blood to sustain themselves, hence the name Grabbers, resulting in the deaths of some of the locals, in particular a woman who is extracted up through a chimney, but they also need water to survive. Unfortunately, a large rainstorm is coming their way! O’Shea gets attacked by one of the monsters but it dies in agony because the ingested blood is saturated with alcohol. Fact number one and the only fact indeed, is that alcohol is the Achilles heel of the monsters! This leads them to believe that the obvious way to escape the ravages of the oncoming alien horde is by getting absolutely blotto. With this theory, the entire population gather together at the local pub for a good piss up courtesy of the landlord.

What goes on after that is left to the imagination. You will have to watch the movie! Sufficient to say the Garda O’Shea turns out to be the only one sober while the rest, including Lisa Nolan, become legless. A source of much amusement and hilarity, they try to defend themselves against the invasion of the monsters.

Although the budget was relatively low at about just over three million pounds, the quality is very good, especially CGI. Yes, the monsters look real and we actually see them in full colour and light, not hazy shadows in darkness. While the pace of the movie is pedestrian at times, it is a simple story told in just over 90 minutes and there is little room for educational discourse. The main attraction seems to be the quaint Irish folk who are up against it even in the mists of alcohol.

Although it’s predictable, especially the ending and the uniting of the main characters in romance, this seems to be the only possible outcome. I think 90% of viewers would have been able to write the script outlines but it never claims to be anything different. This is basically a standard horror story with a comical setting and lots of likeable characters who will make you laugh.

‘Grabbers’ is not going to break any barriers in movie production and will probably be forgotten fairly soon but it’s good stuff, enjoyable and relaxing. The monsters are not really scary because we know it’s all a joke. Yes, ‘Grabbers’ is just a joke but it’s a good joke and certainly one that can be recommended.

Rod MacDonald

(region 2 DVD: pub: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment B005FKSO7Q. 1 DVD 94 minute film with extras. Price: £10.00 (UK))
cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey Lalor Roddy and David Pearse
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release date 18 February 2013

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