Grab some chips. Grab a pint. Just don’t let the Grabbers grab you!
Part alien-horror film, and part pub-crawl, Grabbers is a clever take on an old monster tale.
In a coastal town in Ireland, a bunch of alien parasites (?) are attacking the community until someone realizes that being drunk is the best way to defend oneself. It looks like a raucous good time, in the vein of Shaun of the Dead. The hardest part about the film may be the accents! Cheers!
On quiet Irish isle of Erin Island, where nothing seems to happen, a strange object falls from the sky narrowly missing a fishing boat. As the three fishermen investigate, they are all killed by some unseen creature. Meanwhile, workaholic Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) is met by alcoholic Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle). Nolan is filling in for O’Shea’s partner for a few weeks while he takes time off. The two are as different as can be.
As Nolan acclimates to the slower pace of the island, several other people are killed by the creatures, except for Paddy (Lalor Roddy), who has caught one in his lobster trap. In fact when it attacks him, he is able to fight it off, and apparently kill it. Taking the beast to local ecologist Dr. Smith (Russell Tovey) they discover that the multi-tentacled creature survives off the blood of others, needing only that and water to survive. Smith realizes that this ‘grabber,’ as Paddy keeps wanting to call it was put off by the levels of alcohol in Paddy’s blood. It was also pregnant and has laid eggs.
O’Shea and Nolan discover a larger (much larger) grabber in a cave near the beach, as well as a cache of eggs. With a rain storm headed into the island that evening, Smith, O’Shea, & Nolan realize that they must protect the townsfolk without telling them the true reason. Partnering with the local physician Dr. Gleeson (Pascal Scott) and pub owner Brian Maher (David Pearse), they plan to get drunk enough (“Paddy-levels of drunk”) to ward off the creatures, and offer free alcohol to the townspeople to keep them inside and safe.
Only O’Shea plans to stay sober due to his knowledge of the island, and possible a perverse need to continue to punish himself. Nolan, who has never been drunk, reveals her excessive drive in her work is due to her parents favoring a sister over herself. That night the big grabber comes to investigate the town, and finds Dr. Gleeson relieving himself against the pub wall. He is snatched up and eaten. Dr. Smith ventures outside to get photos of the monster and is flicked by one of the massive tentacles, like a peanut.
O’Shea and Nolan get the idea to dry out the creature by using one of the local construction cranes to hoist it up into the air, removing it from touching water. They take Brian’s truck to the quarry, being chased by the shed-sized grabber. O’Shea is pinned by the needle-like tongue, and not being drunk is in danger of being desiccated. Nolan, in a drunken fit rams a tractor into the beast screaming “Get away from him, you c**t!” O’Shea pours a homebrew of Paddy’s own making down the creatures throat before firing a flare gun into some nearby gas barrels, killing it.
As O’Shea and Nolan walk back to town, having conquered their own demons as well, they decide to give being a couple a go. Back at the beach, the tide is rising and there are still four eggs left in the sand, alive!
“If we taint our blood with booze, we’re poisonous to eat.” – Garda O’Shea
After yesterday’s film that was derivative of Aliens with no additional merit, Grabbers references several previous horror films, while still providing a fun and fresh movie. This film is nothing completely new, but manages to make a new twist to the “monster attacking a small party/town” genre. It manages to reference Ridley Scott’s Alien (the smaller grabber attaching itself to O’Shea’s face like a facehugger), & James Cameron’s Aliens (Nolan’s use of the yellow construction equipment, and the “Get away from him…” line) while playing out a plot similar to Tremors (a group of townsfolk are terrorized by monsters that are difficult to kill).
Maybe it’s the fact that this film was shot in the British Isles, but I can’t help likening it (in tone at least) to Shaun of the Dead, and even moreso, Hot Fuzz. Here we have Nolan, the perfect, overachieving police officer coming to a small, quiet town/island – just as Simon Pegg’s Sgt. Angel came to the quiet village of Sandford. Grabbers also manages to reference Jaws, with the “Welcome to Erin Island” sign. The parent grabber is reminiscent of the mimics from Edge of Tomorrow, with multiple tentacles, gaping maw, and the rolling action it uses to locomote. Even the scene with the baby grabbers invading the bar, parodies Gremlins, where the monsters swing on light fixtures and play with the bar setup.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, this film is mostly a comedy. That’s why it’s able to achieve the numerous references and homages listed above, while still maintaining itself as a solid horror film. It provides plenty of shocks and action to satisfy, but also many laughs at the characters and situations. The clever premise of needing to be drunk to avoid getting killed gives the filmmakers just enough leeway to make this film enjoyable, if not a riot!
- The introductory shot of the meteorite entering the atmosphere is reminiscent of the opening to another great monster film, Predator (1987).
- I mentioned the similarities to Tremors above, but Paddy’s insistence that the creatures be called ‘grabbers’ also parallels Earl’s coining the term ‘graboid’ for the monsters in Tremors. Unfortunately his term didn’t stick the same way.
- The films also includes some splendid vistas of Ireland, showing the beauty and majesty of this country.
Having grown up on comics, television and film, “Jovial” Jay feels destined to host podcasts and write blogs related to the union of these nerdy pursuits. Among his other pursuits he administrates and edits stories at the two largest Star Wars fan sites on the ‘net (Rebelscum.com, TheForce.net), and co-hosts the Jedi Journals podcast over at the ForceCast network.