Horror is a genre that tends to go “back to the well” quite often for inspiration, revisiting situations again and again. Some countries produce so many that the movies begin to run together because of their similar themes and ideas. Not every country has a high output of horror though, so they tend to put out some gems when they do dip their pen in the red.
Ireland is a beautiful country that unfortunately, has not seen much in the way of horror films. There have been some choice cuts though; Wake Wood and Isolation come to mind, movies that have a familiar theme but are presented to us in a refreshing way. Now there is a creature feature to add to the list, Jon Wright’s Grabbers.
Grabbers begins far above the planet, with a striking view of an glowing object zipping across the earth. It soon crashes into the ocean close to a fishing ship. They go to check it out of course, believing it to be a distress flare. What they find is death…quickly.
Soon we are introduced to our “heroes”, Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle), a perpetual drunk who wakes up in the morning and fishes for left over alcohol in the waste basket, and straight laced new girl, Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley). These police officers, or Garda, are called to the scene of several whale carcasses, lying on the coast. It’s not long before human bodies, or pieces turn up, and our officers are faced with a terrifying alien menace that feeds on our blood. There is only one deterrent and O’Shea has the key!
Grabbers is a good, old fashioned horror film with great characters and an atmospheric location. Good creature features have been in short supply for the past few years (no, SYFY flicks don’t count), and it’s good to see something original as well. Though this will inevitably be billed as a horror comedy, the humor in this film is well placed and far from overbearing. I actually hesitate to call it a comedy at all. There are some decent scares, and if you are one of those people who get the shivers from slimy tentically type things, this is your poison!
Richard Coyle is great fun as O’Shea. Visually, he comes across as a mash up of Andy Circus and Chris Kattan, yeah, I know that’s weird, but trust me. Performance-wise, he is on the mark with every scene. He plays O’Shea with a grounded realism that keeps the character fun, but relatable and heroic. The same goes for Ruth Bradley as Lisa Nolan. It’s hard to play the straight and narrow type and keep her real and not slip into parody. Ruth accomplishes this with a subtle naturalness that gels beautifully with Coyle. They have a natural chemistry that harks back to the early days of the X-Files, which is nice. Also good, is the supporting cast which features Bronagh Gallagher (The Commitments, Pulp Fiction) as Una Maher, the local motel owner and Russell Tovey (Being Human UK) as Dr. Adam Smith.
Writer Kevin Lehane and Director Jon Wright create a complete world where the rules aren’t too serious but take themselves seriously. All the characters are engaging and you find yourself wanting to spend time with them again.
Grabbers is a fun creature feature that not only holds its own, but surpasses a lot of similar fare in the genre. Smart but relatable characters and some great moments make this one something to go back to again. In the modern world of derivative horror, it’s nice to know that going back to the well can still be a bloody good time!