Published Oct 14, 2012When Grabbers opens, a mysterious green projectile flies through the night sky landing just off the Coast of Erin Island, a small Irish community. Much like the litany of similarly-premised monster flicks, be them campy small town comedies like Tremors or bigger preservationist military allegories like War of the Worlds, a few locals go missing while others misinterpret the intentions of their newfound species, leading to investigation and eventual battle.
But where the endless array of titles within this ever-expanding lexicon fail—either by miscalculating comedy or stumbling over serious allegory or writing characters that are merely dull ciphers—this smaller budget Irish comedy masters its tone, capturing the irony and oblique insanity of the situation without smug self-awareness.
To start, the central Garda, Ciaran O'Shea (Richard Coyle) is a cynical alcoholic, accustomed to dealing only with domestic squabbles and alcohol related disputes. Partnered with the overly enthusiastic and ambitious Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley), he passively investigates a local disappearance, throwing out sarcastic bon mots when they discover a small, highly aggressive, creature that is visually little more than a toothed vagina surrounded by tentacles.
Their odd couple dynamic, while not original, captures surly Irish whimsy with winning aplomb, which is ameliorated by the inclusion of a meek marine biologist (Russell Tovey) and an array of local drunkards full of snappy one-liners and hilariously crass insults. Even better is the fact that the tentacled-monsters are allergic to liquor, which means that everyone has to get as hammered as possible to ensure self-preservation, explaining the creative and amusing defence techniques and battle strategies devised in the local pub.
With the occasional nod to Gremlins and more obvious fare like Shaun of the Dead, Grabbers is very much aware of existing cinematic tropes. Only, unlike other modern satires, writer Kevin Lehane and director Jon Wright are more concerned with creating their own encapsulated and astutely observed tone and dynamic than they are paying homage or playing with genre expectations. It results a movie that delivers endless laughs entertainment despite not having much to say. (IFC)