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'Grabbers' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


'Grabbers' movie poster
© IFC Midnight
Last year's dark, brooding Citadel was a high mark for Irish horror cinema, and this year, a film with quite the opposite tone -- the cheeky horror comedy Grabbers -- continues the Emerald Isle's run of quality genre fare.

The Plot

Just off the coast of Ireland, on sleepy Erin Island, Dublin police officer Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) reports for a two-week duty, filling in for the island's vacationing sergeant. The prim and proper Nolan is surprised to find colleague Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle) to be slovenly, hungover and not particularly welcoming to the big-city newcomer. Her by-the-book mentality rubs him the wrong way, but the two have to work closely together when strange occurrences begin popping up around the isle, beginning with the a massive beaching of pilot whales.

Local marine scientist Adam Smith (Russell Tovey) declares that the whales were killed before they even hit the shore, and when a local fisherman catches a small tentacled unknown creature, which he dubs a "grabber," it becomes increasingly clear what caused the deaths. More and more of the sea monsters -- one of which is particularly large -- begin appearing around town, attacking the citizens, whose fates lie in the hands of the drunk and the rookie cop.

The End Result

L-R: Russell Tovey, Richard Coyle, Lalor Roddy and Ruth Bradley in 'Grabbers'.

L-R: Russell Tovey, Richard Coyle, Lalor Roddy and Ruth Bradley in 'Grabbers'.

© IFC Midnight
Grabbers is a welcome throwback to monster movies of yore, when there was no real need to delve deep into the backgrounds of either the characters or the creatures (it remains a mystery here where they came from). All that matters is the monsters are here and they need to be stopped. This refreshingly straightforward approach is reminiscent of another creature feature comedy, 1990's Tremors, the two films sharing not only a similar lighthearted tone, but also strikingly similar plot points:
  • Set in an isolated small town
  • A female newcomer links up with an uncouth local male
  • A small specimen of the creature is found, examined and given a goofy name ("graboids" vs "grabbers") by an old-timer who wants to profit from it
  • Townspeople find themselves trapped inside a building

That said, I certainly wouldn't call Grabbers a Tremors ripoff or anything like that. If anything, it's an homage, much in the way that it tips its hat to other classic creature features, like Aliens and Gremlins.

The comedic performances are excellent all around, the characters are likable and the dialogue is breezy and playful, even taking aim at the stereotype of Irish drinking with a wink and a nudge. The horror elements aren't particularly scary nor gory, but they work in a fun, high-end SyFy sort of way (I mean that in the best way possible), and the CGI creature effects are well done for the budget.

The overall plot is probably the weakest element, as it bails out on the storyline of how the bulk of the townspeople battle the small grabbers while the heroes are dealing with the large one, and it could've amped up the action with a few more memorable set pieces. Nevertheless, Grabbers is a hoot of a monster movie that respects its lineage, playing like a love letter to those that came before it.

The Skinny

  • Acting: B (Strong comedic performances.)
  • Direction: B- (Conveys a sense of fun throughout.)
  • Script: B- (Funny, lighthearted dialogue and enjoyable characters.)
  • Gore/Effects: B- (Good CGI effects, modest gore.)
  • Overall: B- (A charming, funny old-school creature feature.)

Grabbers is directed by Jon Wright and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: July 19, 2013.

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