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Review: Grabbers (Directed by Jon Wright) (Fantasia 2012)

Aug. 8, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: A sleepy island off the coast of Ireland is invaded by bloodsucking aliens. That’s the bad news. The good news is, the aliens are allergic to alcohol, and they’re in Ireland . Yeah, the aliens are fucked.

REVIEW: An alien-invasion movie where the only way to survive is by getting absolutely piss-drunk. Why has that never been thought of before? Watching GRABBERS, I began to believe that, in similar circumstances, me and my best drinking buddies could possibly emerge as mankind’s last hope- if being drunk was the only way to fend off aliens. As fun as this premise sounds, there’s more to GRABBERS than just that.

The whole “let’s get wasted to protect ourselves from aliens” bit only really hits towards the end- and even then, a cruel twist of fate makes it so that our alcoholic hero, a burnt-out, “Orish” guardsman has to stay sober in order to battle the quid-like baddies. So- this isn’t say- Broken Lizard does WAR OF THE WORLDS or anything like that. Rather, GRABBERS is another horror-comedy along the lines of SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and especially SLITHER- with if sharing several striking similarities with that film- although I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a copy-cat.

The whole Alien-invasion bit is set up in classic horror fashion, with the bodies of partially devoured whales found on the beach by our hero- Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle) and his new partner Lisa (Ruth Bradley)- a fresh faced copper from Dublin brought in to keep an eye on O’Shea by his vacationing superior. For the most part, GRABBERS is a pretty low-key, even “cute” comedy- with little in the way of gore, and even when it hits I’d wager it doesn’t go beyond PG-13 levels. That’s not a criticism though, as not every film has to be ultra-brutal. A comedy-horror hybrid is tricky, and the director, Jon Wright has obviously decided to favor the “comedy” side of the equation- and for what it’s worth, it comes off much better than the recent, similar NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH.

Key to its success is a extremely likable cast. I’ve only seen Coyle in Madonna’s awful W.E, but he’s excellent as the functioning alcoholic guardsman, perpetually hung-over, and always up for a pint. He’s also the star of the upcoming PUSHER remake, and Coyle strikes me as one to watch. His chemistry with co-star Ruth Bradley is terrific (so good, I hear they’re an item off-screen), with the gradual romance that sprigs up between the buttoned up Lisa, and the easy-going Ciaran taking an interesting twist when their roles are reversed. A plot twist forces him to be the sober, responsible one, while she has an absolute blast drunkenly repelling the alien horde.

The supporting cast is also top-notch. Russell Tovey- from the UK BEING HUMAN, is onboard as the nebbish coroner- who, naturally, is among those forced to get wasted towards the end. As the hapless bartender forced to get an entire town loaded (who, along with booze- is the film’s true unsung hero), is David Pearce- in a really funny performance. I especially loved his weapon of choice- a super-soaker filled with liquor and a lighter, and the fact that it doesn’t even come close to working is even funnier. As the requisite town drunk, who- of course, is named Paddy, is Lalor Roddy- who seems like the kind of fun old drunk guy I’m sure we’d all love to get hammered with.

So- while it’s light on the horror, and the aliens aren’t especially memorable, being little more than a swarm of tentacles, I still had a really good time with GRABBERS. It’s a fun horror comedy, and especially fun to watch with a bunch of buddies, and a whole mess of booze. Now I’m off to the pub…

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