Review: Grabbers (2012) ★★★

Rating: ★★★ out of 5

Grabbers is an Irish horror-comedy film, written and directed by Jon Wright. The story follows an alcoholic policeman, Ciarán (played by Richard Coyle) who must team up with his new female partner, Lisa (played by Ruth Bradley) to solve a series of strange occurrances on a remote Irish island. After a few dead whales wash up on shore, the duo, with the help of a few locals, discover aggressive, tentacled aliens that have inhabited the shores. These creatures require only two things to survive: blood and water. After a particularly inebriated resident is attacked and survives, it becomes apparent that the best weapon against the invaders is alcohol. This leads Ciarán and Lisa to gather the tiny populace together at the local bar to get completely wasted (and thus theoretically prevent themselves from being eaten) while they attempt to kill the giant beast and its many offspring.

At first glance, this is a fun monster movie, highly remiscent of Edgar Wright’s more successful Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy. And while it is very enjoyable and benefits from a good premise, Grabbers also has its weak points. First and foremost, the film is not as funny as it should be. Many horror-comedies forego the more horrific elements to emphasize comedy. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem to have forgotten to compensate for the lack of real scares. This is not to say that comedy and horror are completely absent from the film. It does feature tense confrontations with the monsters and a few amusing one-liners, but it is never genuinely, laugh-out-loud funny in the way that Sean of the Dead, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil or The Cabin in the Woods are. The filmmakers wrote in one long running joke revolving around alcohol (hint: Irish people enjoy it), and hoped that the comedy would just naturally arise from the premise. The thought of a group of Irishmen and women trying to battle otherworldly creatures all while getting increasingly wasted does sound funny, but sadly the filmmakers never develop the comedic elements enough to really satisfy.

Central theme of the film: Irish people like to drink (Grabbers, 2012).

While the comedic elements of the film certainly leave something to be desired, Grabbers does benefit from gorgeous Irish locales, with establishing shots of rolling green hills, rocky beaches, and quiet little villages. The ensemble of Irish actors also gives the film a special charm that would be otherwise lacking in an American-made film. The special effects, while not astounding, are surprisingly good considering the film’s budget. However, the creatures are inherently somewhat dull. Before we see them, their presence creates a wonderful sense of dread, but once they are presented to the audience, the scares quickly dwindle, and the film devolves into horror film cliches.

So, in short, if you are looking for a light, fun horror-comedy with beautiful visuals, Grabbers is the film for you. But if you’re looking for genuine laughs or scares, you’d be better served to look elsewhere.

Grabbers is available to rent or purchase via Amazon here.

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