Night #3: Grabbers (2012)

Directed By: Joe Wright

Imagine Tremors, except with more drinking and 100% more Irish accents and you have a fair idea of what’s in store for you with this one.

Ciaran O’Shea (Did I mention it was Irish?) is a drunkard and local policeman on the Island of Aran. For 2 weeks he’s getting a partner in the shape of overly eager teetotaler Lisa Nolan who’s the new arrival to the sleepy island. Turns out she’s not the only thing. Something has landed in the nearby waters and is killing the passing whales – and fishermen – and is looking to reproduce.

I had seen this one pop up a few times on Netflix and never really bothered with it, but I heard enough recommendations to finally give it a go and on the whole I’m glad I did. It’s a fun, sometimes hard to understand, little movie that doesn’t outstay its welcome. It also has a great hook as I mentioned above: Thanks to the local biologist they learn that these things just need water and blood to survive, but that enough alcohol will kill them completely.

The cast is good, and I don’t think I’ll see a more adorable sight this year than Ruth Bradley acting drunk. In a just world she would be a bigger star. IMDB says that she’s had regular work since the 2012 release but still, it would be nice to see more of her. As I said earlier, there’s a bit of Tremors in here – OK, there’s quite a lot of it actually – and there seems to have been some echoes of Deep Rising as well, both in creature design and tone. Like those movies it’s all a little bloodless here and it’s something that, if not for the swearing, you could probably put in front of a kid without needing to change much. It’s mostly fun, and a good introduction to creature features.

Sadly though it doesn’t quite live up to its premise. The hook, the whole getting drunk thing, is barely explored even though the third act is set in the Island’s only pub. It’s not that I was expecting Charles Bukowski’s Grabbers, but it would’ve been nice to get a little more out of the idea than what feels like the 10 minutes of revelry we get. As it is, the inhabitants getting drunk is a moot point as it never really comes into play and their situation would be no different if they’d all just sat there sober. In fact, the only characters that get killed during that time are the ones who go outside because they’re drunk. Perhaps this is some Reefer Madness-like tale about the true dangers of drinking. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that it was somehow funded by the temperance movement. Then again, temperance and Irish don’t exactly go hand in hand. Weirdly enough it reminded me of Cherry Falls, a mostly forgotten early-2000s slasher movie in which the killer announces he’ll kill anyone who’s still a virgin, leading to all the kids copiously trying to get laid (If anything would benefit from a remake I think it’s fair to say that one will). It’s a great hook that neither movie really follows up on.

It’s hard to pinpoint just what it is that left me underwhelmed. The first third or so works well enough that I think by the end I was expecting more than what I got, which is a shame because it’s well directed (And the island itself looks beautiful) with some funny writing and good performances. On the whole it’s too disjointed for me to want to go back to any time soon, but did make me want to throw on Tremors and watch Kevin Bacon trounce around in his cowboy hat.

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