Grabbers Review

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A meteorite crashes into the sea off the coast of Ireland, and a space creature starts attacking local lifeforms. Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Coyle) and his supervisor Lisa Nolan (Bradley) discover that the monster has a particular weakness — it is allergic to a


An old-fashioned monster movie in the Roger Corman tradition, this has a decent CGI creature (mostly angry tentacles) besieging an isolated community (an island off the coast of Ireland) and a nice line in wry, self-deprecating humour. In an era when too many alien invaders crash-land in enormously budgeted, dreadfully written drudges like the Transformers films or Battleship, Grabbers comes with a smart, witty script from Kevin Lehane and characters you’d be interested in even if they were just having a skewed romance in a regular film without a homicidal alien squid.

UK TV stars Richard Coyle (Coupling) and Ruth Bradley (Primeval) are an interesting mismatched cop team — a semi-alcoholic who just wants a quiet life and a by-the-book martinet who wants to have all the forms filled in — but they also strike sparks off each other (“How much have you had?” “Not enough to fancy you.” “Well then, keep drinking”) in a fashion that suggests they’re destined to warm to each other if they survive the night. Respecting a British tradition of setting science-fiction movies in pubs, the set-piece is a monumental lock-in as the bickering islanders discover the man-eating monster can’t digest a drunk person so the only defence is to get bladdered.
Jon Wright directed the decent little teen horror film Tormented, but ups his game here. Grabbers manages a rare balance, playing character material lightly but taking its horrors seriously — with the possibility that a tentacle will swoop into frame at any moment and whip even a featured actor out to a nasty fate. Familiar faces like Russell Tovey (a biology boffin) and Bronagh Gallagher grab their own little moments in the busy story, and a fine array of seamed, battered, red-nosed, you-know-the-face bit-players add to the Irish atmos.

A near-irresistible Friday-night-out monster picture in the tradition of Lake Placid or Tremors, with a boozy Irish charm that makes it a distinctive addition to the catalogue of alien invasions.