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Grabbers | Review

Don’t Snatch This Mixed Bag

Jon Wright Grabbers PosterIrish director Jon Wright seems content spoon feeding audiences with derivative genre efforts, or at least one could surmise after his sophomore feature, Grabbers is bestowed upon audiences. Wright’s 2009 debut, Tormented, was about a bullied teen come back from the dead to slaughter his posh UK prep school torturers, which had about as much finesse as 1999’s The Rage: Carrie 2. And now, we’re treated to an Irish creature feature about alien cephalopod’s intent on sucking blood. Intentionally goofy, and drearily written, your reception of the film will all depend on how high you set your stakes. Think Tremors (1990) was a classic? Maybe you’ll enjoy this tired flick.

Richard Coyle stars as Garda Ciaran O’Shea, a notorious drunkard, who has to be babysat by a substitute Garda, Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) when his boss has to take a two-week trip. Nolan’s a bit of a stickler for the rules, so the two have several exchanges of opposing police work dynamics as they begin to investigate several deaths caused by octopus-like creatures that have landed in the water, having come somewhere from outer space, and laying lots of eggs on the beach. But when the town drunkard, Paddy (Lalor Roddy) picks up one of the creatures in his lobster cage, the stalwart investigators discover that the creatures may lust for blood, but not if a host has consumed alcohol. As you can imagine, this leads to a scatterbrained attempt to subdue the creatures by having all the townsfolk get drunk and engage in combat. Fill in the rest of the blanks.

If you’re one of those naysayers that slighted M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs (2002) for being about superior hydrophobic beings that come to take over a planet that’s made up mostly of water, you’ll have to question the intention of creatures allergic to alcohol attempting to exterminate a small Irish fishing town. Obviously, director Wright and screenwriter Kevin Lehane are going for concept here, attempting to explore comedic horror. However, the proceedings fail miserably, reaching an adolescent mirth, at best, when the drunken townspeople get tanked at the film’s climax. A shoddy romance, subpar special effects, and a feeble homage to Aliens all add up to one dull horror film and a tacky comedic scenario that was done better in 1990. There’s an infamously bad Shelley Winters/John Huston creature feature from 1977 called Tentacles, and boy does that sound like a better midnight movie debacle than this tired formula.

Reviewed on January 23rd at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival – MIDNIGHT Programme.
92 Mins.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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