If you took Shaun Of The Dead and put it in a blender with the 1990 classic Tremors you’d get Grabbers, a fun British horror/comedy about the citizens of a remote island off the cost of Ireland pitted against slimy, tentacled space monsters. The story begins with a fishing vessel witnessing a meteorite crashing in the sea. A short while later, the crew is killed by something big and tentacled while off the coast of the Irish island of Erin. Meanwhile on Erin, Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle), the local Garda (the national police of the Republic of Ireland), is dealing with a new temporary partner, the by-the-book Lisa Nolan (cutie Ruth Bradley) who doesn’t approve of O’Shea’s drinking problem. The two have bigger issues to deal with, though as dead whales wash up on shore, a mysterious creature is captured by a local fisherman and citizens start disappearing. Soon they realize that their peaceful little island is under siege by mysterious tentacled creatures who are laying eggs all over the place and are protected by a massive and very vicious alpha male. The island is a perfect habitat for the monsters, though they do have a very interesting weakness, considering this is Ireland after all. Now can these two lone cops somehow keep the villagers safe and survive the evening long enough to realize that they have fallen for each other despite their differences?
The answer to that is a lot of fun finding out as director Jon Wright (no relation to Edgar as far as I can tell) has a good time with Kevin Lehane’s derivative but fun script. And that’s the key… we recognize the obvious inspirations and have seen it all before, but we cut it some slack as it’s a lot of fun. One of the reasons is the film is populated with a lot of colorful characters brought to life by a fine Irish cast. Coyle and Bradley have a nice chemistry and work well together and to be honest, they make a cute couple. The eccentric characters around them also blend very well such as local drunk Paddy (Lalor Roddy) and resident scientist, the stuffy Dr. Smith (a homage to Lost In Space’s infamous doctor perhaps?). Another reason is we get some well executed and effectively slimy critters in our CGI Grabbers. They are basically all tentacles and teeth and those are two combinations that effectively chill when it comes to a movie beastie and their level of menace helps propel the story as does some decent but not overdone gore. Wright also gets the tone for this kind of thing down perfectly. He never takes his subject too seriously, but never lets it get too silly, so as not to make a joke out of it. There are proper amounts of humor and horror blended evenly, much like the two previously mentioned films it evokes. That is the way to making a film like this work. If you are going to evoke the work of others, lay your homages out in the open and have a good time with it. The audience will have fun and let you slide that you are presenting them with a mash-up of stuff they’ve seen before.
Grabbers is a fun, fast paced movie with a charming cast and a nice mix of laughs and thrills. Nothing original, but it’s not trying to be… it just wants to recreate the fun of it’s influences and on that level, it works. Entertaining and unlike the recently reviewed Cockneys vs Zombies, Grabbers isn’t an imitation, but a cinematic hug to the movies that entertained it’s makers, in it’s own style. And that’s the difference between homage and rip-off.
3 tentacled Grabbers!