Review: Grabbers (2012)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #756

Number of Views: One
Release Date: January 23, 2012 (Sundance Film Festival)
Sub-Genre: Creature Feature
Country of Origin: Ireland, United Kingdom
Budget: $5,300,000
Box Office: $440,821
Running Time: 94 minutes
Director: Jon Wright
Producers: Tracy Brimm, Kate Myers, Martina Niland
Screenplay: Kevin Lehane
Special Effects: Shaune Harrison, Shaune Harrison
Visual Effects: Huseyin Caner, Paddy Eason
Cinematography: Trevor Forrest
Score: Christian Henson
Editing: Matt Platts-Mills
Studios: Forward Films, UK Film Council, Irish Film Board, Limelight, High Treason, Nvizible, Samson Films
Distributors: Sony Pictures, Element Pictures
Stars: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy, David Pearse, Bronagh Gallagher, Pascal Scott, Clelia Murphy, Louis Dempsey, Micheál Ó Gruagáin, Ned Dennehy, Stuart Graham, Killian Coyle, Michael Hough, Jonathan Ryan, Barbara Adair, Roz McCutcheon, Nick Chopping

Suggested Audio Jukebox

[1] Chuck Berry “Downbound Train”

[2] Luke Kelly “Whiskey In The Jar”

[3] The Dubliners & The Pogues “The Irish Rover”

[4] House of Pain “Jump Around”

I’ve never really been much of a boozer. Let’s not piss on the newt here; there is nothing more grand than a stem of vintage rouge to accompany a nice succulent fillet steak. But it has never really been my poison of choice unfortunately. While that must come as a tremendous relief to my kidneys; the lungs appear to be the ones paying for my over indulgence and they remind me every morning by way of hacking cough.

That said, at least I don’t have to deal with the hangover. Traditionally it is here where we proclaim our intention never to drink again for as long as we live. Of course, sobriety only lasts until we find ourselves clutching the hair of the dog that bit us once again and few cycles are geared up to perpetuate themselves as habitually. Anyhoots, here are a few other interesting facts about the old moonshine to assist with the sobering process.

According to research, 0.7% of the entire global population are blind drunk at any given time. That means right now, over 50 million people are in a state of inebriation. When you consider that a bottle of bubbly contains three times the pressure found in car tires and a popped cork can travel as fast as 60 miles per hour; that means there’s a good chance someone is succumbing to severe champagne related injuries as we speak.

This one gets me merry. Should you happen to herald from Ohio, then you may be aware that it is considered most unsatisfactory to get a fish drunk and is punishable by law. I can just see that salmon struggling to swim in a straight line after being clocked doing forty in a thirty pond.

Meanwhile, should you happen to have a spare $375m knocking about, then may I suggest a bottle of “Billionaire Vodka” as that’s the average asking price. To be fair, it does come in a platinum and rhodium encased, diamond encrusted crystal decanter and is filtered through sand made from crushed diamonds and gems. But now you know why fat-cats are so reluctant to get the next round.

Perhaps most fascinating is the fact that alcohol isn’t exclusively a terrestrial matter. Astronomers have apparently discovered that there’s a skinful of booze in outer space as well and that should strike fear in all of our hearts. Indeed, mankind’s only hope at this present moment is that they’re hardly what you’d call hardened drinkers and have virtually no tolerance to the stuff whatsoever. Hold onto that thought for a second will you while I grab myself some Dutch courage before last orders. Bottoms up!

If you were looking for a drinking buddy, then you could do far worse than Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle). Indeed, you can normally find him over in Maher’s Pub, propping up the bar after a hard night on the lash. Ciarán is one of life’s functioning alcoholics and only drinks to forget the fact that his wife ran off with another fella. However, when not sinking jars in his local, he’s actually a pillar of this small community and the closest Erin Island has to a lawman. God help them.

The last thing Ciarán needs right now is some by-the-book upstart sticking her oar into his personal affairs and that’s precisely what is about to happen. Granted, his freshly assigned temporary partner Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) is rather easy on the eye, but she’s only here for two weeks, so the best thing to do is ignore the semi-erection and continue to treat her with indifference. Besides, there are far more pressing matters right now than underlying animal attraction.

While it’s not unheard of for a dead whale’s carcass to wash up in the high tide from time to time, it’s far more uncommon for a dozen or so to wind up shipwrecked in unison. Not to mention the fact that something appears to have snacked on them during transit. Perhaps it would have something to do with the green bolt of light that hit the swim last night and promptly relieved a trawler of its shipmates. As the fisherman’s wife said to her husband after catching him in their marital bed with a 100 lb trout – “there’s something decidedly fishy going on here”.

None of this bonus blubber matters to Paddy (Lalor Roddy) as he’s just thrilled to have caught a bona fide whopper in his lobster trap and rushes it home to his bath tub excitedly, grinning that lopsided grin of his. If you were to ask the locals, they’d say Paddy is a “real lush of a fisherman” and there’s a disconcerting rumor that a doctor recently found traces of blood in his alcohol stream. Totally unfounded of course.

“You are so NOT putting this on eBay!”

After Paddy narrowly escapes the dreaded squid snog and lives to tell the tale in a tongue that only Paddy could ever decipher, Ciarán and Lisa decide it’s high time they transport this suspicious sea urchin to someone in the know for answers. Said smug gobshite is ecologist-biologist Dr. Smith (Russell Tovey) and he is only too happy to deliver any bad news if it means “consoling” Lisa. This “Grabber”, as Paddy has affectionately named it, may not be of this Earth, appears able to survive on only blood and water, and here comes that kicker, is fecking tee-total. Either that or Paddy isn’t its type and, you tell me, how could you not want to kiss this face?

At any rate, you know what this means don’t you? I mean, the only hope the good people of Erin Island have of overcoming this threat is to head off to their local tavern, get bladdered and hope that the luck of the Irish doesn’t pay them a visit. This is where cheery Brian (David Pearse) and his lovely wife Una (Bronagh Gallagher) come in handy to Ciarán, as the couple are about to arrange one such lock-in, unbeknownst to either of them. I wonder how that conversation would play out? Fuck it, I’ve been to Ireland once and sat through The Commitments. Hear ye, hear ye.

☘ Look at that sea monster feck, looks like a blind cobbler’s thumb so it does. Don’t know about you lot but I’m cut to the onions of gobshites like that coming into our boozers acting the maggot. The way I see it, we either sit around here olagonin’ and wind up foddered, or we use our noodles and get langered. The place is jammers and everyone looks up for the craic so I reckon it could be hatchet. I’m always up for a quick hop on so what do you say we get locked out of our trees like a monkey who forgot his keys? Oh, and it’s a free-bar so it is. [CUE UPROARIOUS APPLAUSE] ☘

This is where Jon Wright’s Grabbers suddenly comes into its own. While evidently inspired by eighties creature features the likes of Humanoids From The Deep, Tremors and Gremlins, the whole “fight back with booze” angle has never before been covered to my recollection and it’s positively ripe for the picking.

The build-up has been patient up until now (but seldom less than eventful) and Kevin Lehane’s whip-smart screenplay has managed to strike just the right balance between wry, self-deprecating humor and straight-faced horror. Moreover, we’ve got to know the Erin Island locals and they happen to be a rather jovial bunch, even more so when under the influence. But this is where it could potentially hoist itself to a higher plateau. And all it takes is the piss up to end all piss ups to get there.

Alas, this is where Grabbers falls agonizingly short of the buoy of greatness. You see, while it’s just grand hanging out with our new shams at the Maher Pub, last bell rings way too early and we’re rushed off to the nearest construction site for our rousing last stand. It’s nitpicking I know, but there’s just so much legs in the “alcohol as a best defence” concept, and it feels just a tad skimmed over if I’m honest.

That said, the fact that I care enough to split hairs should say everything that needs to be said about Wright’s movie. The titular tentacled terrorizer looks simply sea food delicious and slithers around with wonderfully slippery intent, without once appearing like a stunt squid. Better yet, Wright even manages to wedge in a love story and observe it sweetly to boot. The bottom line is this – I’d be more than happy to pop into the Maher Pub for a swift half, next time I’m in the area. And do you know what? I’d do it just for the craic.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10

Grue Factor: 2/5


For the Grue-Guzzlers: Let’s see what our old pal Paddy caught in his lobster trap today shall we? Nothing much to click our heels about I’m afraid – a fistful of cockles, half-eaten license plate, and decapitated head or two. On the sunny side of the street, there’s always the chance that a flailing tendril will lurch into shot at any given moment and whip one of our patrons away to a fate most grisly. Come to think of it, the best kill of all has no requisite for grue whatsoever, and entails possibly the longest distance person punt in motion picture history. This glorious scene alone deserves to be an overnight YouTube sensation. 

Read Humanoids From The Deep Appraisal
Read Slither Appraisal
Read Gremlins Appraisal
Read Alien Raiders Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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