Grabbers: A Quintessentially Irish Monster Movie

By Kelly Haugh

From the shores of Ireland comes the comedic horror film “Grabbers,” a delightful mix of suspense, B-movie frights and a very Irish sense of humor.  Set on a small island off the coast of the Emerald Isle, a motley band of residents find themselves under siege from slimy, tentacled creatures that arrive on a meteor and then rise out of the sea one idyllic Irish day.

So what do the Irish do when they’re attacked by bloodsucking monsters?  Head to the pub for a few drinks, of course!

There is a reason for their imbibing.  It turns out the invading creatures are fatally allergic to alcohol, making the blood of the intoxicated toxic to them.  With a fierce storm keeping the residents from escaping, getting drop down drunk may be their only chance to survive long enough to make it off the island.

As if surviving an alien attack wasn’t hard enough, the residents of this sleepy little island now have to formulate and execute a plan while tossing back shots, drowning their brains in beer and slurring their love for everyone in the pub.  At least if things go wrong, they’re going to go out partying in true Irish style…and they probably won’t feel a thing.

The merry band of misfits on the island includes two very different garda (police officers), a stuffy but smart marine biologist and Paddy, a colorful and often comical old-timer who likes to hit the moonshine and says whatever is on his mind.

Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) never needs an excuse to drink and seems pretty nonchalant about his job, but despite his sometimes bumbling nature he shows himself to be smart and capable – most of the time.  His fresh off the boat temporary partner is the uptight and by the book Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley), who O’Shea immediately butts heads with.  He enjoys pushing her buttons even as he attempts to get her to loosen up and have some fun with him.  He gets his wish thanks to the alien invasion as Nolan is forced to get way beyond drunk for the first time in her life, leading to many comedic moments and blurted confessions after she blows a .2 blood alcohol level.

While there are surprisingly decent special effects and enough monster movie elements to please fans of the genre, it’s the laugh out loud moments in the midst of suspense that makes “Grabbers” really shine.  From witty one-liners to some drunken slapstick moments, “Grabbers” delivers the comedy without becoming a total farce or losing track of the creature storyline.

And for once, audiences can excuse most of the stupid decisions characters in horror movies inevitably make because these characters are completely hammered, except for the normally drunk O’Shea who volunteers to stay sober to be the brains of the operation.

Full of laughs, suspense, aliens and Irish accents, with a little romance and a lot of Irish cursing for good measure, “Grabbers” is great addition to the list of enjoyable movies for the Halloween season.  Since the horror and suspense elements are also tempered with a good dose of comedy, it’d be a good choice for monster movie junkies and sci-fi fans as well as those who prefer something a little tamer than the typical horror recipe of blood, guts and gore.

Filmed in Donegal and Northern Ireland, “Grabbers” also boasts a beautiful backdrop and picturesque ocean views before the massive storm rolls in.

The film, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival to mostly positive reviews, also goes along with Penn State New Kensington’s “Countries of Focus” program that is focusing on Ireland and the United Kingdom this year.  More Irish movies and music can be found in PSNK’s Blissell Library.

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