Release date: December 31st, 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Director: Jon Wright
Writer: Kevin Lehane
Composer: Christian Henson
Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey
When the world goes to hell, whether it be from aliens, asteroids or the aggression of the people with their fingers on the big red buttons, I’d like to think that I’ll be alert, awake and fighting for survival. However if I was stuck on a small island in the middle of the ocean under attack from blood sucking aliens and I found out that indulging in the devil’s drink might help save me, I’d also be first to the bar. We all know that as stereotypes go, there probably isn’t a much truer one than that the Irish love a drink. To learn that the aliens will die if they drink the intoxicated blood of drunken people makes the inhabitants of said island very happy considering the imminent invasion.
Drinking, like all drugs, causes a huge amount of social problems but as anyone who partakes will tell you, they can also be a hell of a lot of fun. Director Jon Wright and writer Kevin Lehane realise this and while nodding towards the underlying issue of alcoholism, eschew the seriousness of the subject in favour of thick and fast laughs at the expense of people pissed as parrots, including the local police. While a film that explores drinking problems would be timely and relevant, this piece of escapist fun is ideal for a Friday night out when you’ve had too many drinks.
Like Shaun Of The Dead meets Attack The Block, Grabbers continues the trend for Brits fighting monsters while intoxicated on their favourite substances. Like Shaun Of The Dead‘s zombie killers, the heroes of Grabbers find refuge in the great British bastion of booze hounds; the local pub. Like Attack The Block, stereotypes of British society are played to and occasionally dug beneath and all while our heroes battle monsters with mean looking teeth. Also like both these films, there’s arguably a layer of subtext sadly missing that made some of the films that inspired these a little more robust and timeless.
The sozzled stars are the game cast up for a craic while fighting off hordes of icky, slimy, blood guzzling aliens. Richard Coyle is the reluctant hero while Ruth Bradley is the ridiculously lovely copper visiting from the mainland. She gets the standout turn as she switches from uptight to let loose, liver bothering drunkard. However the supporting cast are all excellent with a believable bunch of island dwellers injecting the stereotypes (nerdy English biologist, bothersome barmaid and drunk fisherman) with heart and humour.
Despite the low budget, the effects are impressive. It’s not even that the filmmakers have gone down the saving the effects money for the final scenes route, though the monster does get some money shots towards the end. There are plenty of creatures in this feature and the effects are excellent, aided by some pretty cool creature design. From the opening shot of incoming aliens dropping from space to the final face off with the daddy alien, the film looks infinitely bigger and better than its budget would suggest.
Much of Grabbers’ considerable charm lies not just in the script and comedy characters, but also in the island itself. The stunning scenery and sunny cinematography is breathtaking and makes the isle look like a beautiful destination for a visit; bloodsucking aliens or not. The beaches, cliffs, hills and fields make for impressive vistas and the sun tinged shots are lensed like the Irish tourist board’s wet dream. The island is an absolute star, naturally beautiful and giving the film an irresistible sense of isolation. Director of photography Trevor Forrest displays an excellent eye for the landscape and gifts the film with a gorgeous look to go with the gory content. Adding to this is Christian Henson’s wonderful score emphasising the calm before the storm and creating an idyllic island setting before the invaders appear.
The pace is breathless with particularly the opening scenes moving quicker than an alien tentacle. Opening with an alien attack on a boat in the ocean, the aliens come ashore and waste no time in targeting the locals. Every scene feels shorter than it could’ve been with the script feeling snipped to its leanest and meanest. Punchlines don’t hang thick in the air waiting for laughs, the gory murders aren’t dwelled upon and there’s never a chance to get bored. Balancing action, horror and comedy and even squeezing in a sweet romance and love triangle, this is a low budget blockbuster with something for everyone and a real crowd pleasing vibe.
Like a happy drunk, it appears effortlessly entertaining. More importantly it sobers up nicely when something more than lairy laughs are required of it. As the characters get increasingly inebriated, Grabbers manages to up the terror while also upping the comedy. No film that’s this funny is ever going to scare the pants off the audience but it does manage making exciting look easy. Go see it inebriated and have a laugh along with the tanked up characters. You might not wet yourself with fear but if you get pissed enough before hand, you’ll probably piss yourself laughing.
Peter is a film and media lecturer and currently writing his PhD thesis on found footage horror movies. This means he must endure all sorts of cinema’s worst drivel in the name of academia. If that wasn’t punishing enough, Peter enjoys watching films with brutal violence, depressing themes and a healthy splash of tragedy.
If Peter isn’t watching films, he is writing about them, talking about them or daydreaming about them. He regularly contributes to Media Magazine and a range of film websites. You can find his film blog at www.ilovethatfilm.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @ilovethatfilm.