Just outside a quaint little Irish coastal town, a green comet of sorts crashes into an ocean. A fishing boat goes to check it out, thinking it was a flare, and the crew is quickly killed by some sort of creature. So begins the opening film of the 2012 Toronto After Dark film festival, which was a very fun horror-comedy. The film features elements of many different types of creature films and also relies heavily on the Irish stereotypes of drinking and swearing for much of the comedy, which is actually quite hilarious.
So, the film focuses on a police officer named Ciaran and his new by-the-books partner Lisa. They are called to investigate a number of strange occurrences around town, including dead whales washing up onto the beach and a local fisherman drunkenly claiming that he caught a “sea monster.” This “sea monster” turns out to be a bloodsucking tentacled alien creature, which are nicknamed “Grabbers” for the way they grab onto people’s faces in order to feed off them. Through trial and error, they find out that alcohol is poisonous to creatures, so they figure that the best way of surviving through the night is become perpetually smashed.
The fact that the characters have to get drunk to survive is the source of much of the comedy in the film, especially when it comes to, the formerly uptight, Lisa. Lisa ends up becoming the most drunk person of the bunch and becomes much more happy-go-lucky as a result. The drunkenness also inhibits the character’s ability to properly fight back when the creature problem becomes worse than they have expected.
As a horror-comedy, Grabbers also has a lot of humour in its violence. The film is essentially a more drunken version of Tremors, except it’s a bit more gory than you would expect for this type of film (especially involving the larger male Grabber, who has the habit of eating people whole and spitting out their heads). There is also an all-to-brief scene late in the film, which pleasantly brings up memories of Joe Dante’s Gremlins. Finally, there is a great moment in the climax, which seems to be a direct allusion to a similar scene in Aliens. I should also note that the CGI creatures looked pretty well-done for, what I believe is, a fairly low-budget film.
While the film itself is fun it watch, the cinematography is actually quite breathtaking at times. There are many shots of the Irish countryside within the film, which is definitely much more pleasant to the the eye than many American settings. Of course Ireland plays a big role in the film, especially when it comes to the stereotype of the Irish being drunks. As someone with Irish heritage, I don’t really react that kindly to that view of the Irish. That said, it was definitely entertaining to watch.
Overall, I would have to say that Grabbers was a solid and fun creature feature and was a great way to kick off the Toronto After Dark film festival.8 | LIKED IT