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Movie Review

Grabbers

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Director: Jon Wright

Starring: Ruth Bradley, Richard Coyle, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy, David Pearse, Bronagh Gallagher

Duration: 94 minutes

Certificate 15A

1 of 3 The frontline in the war against blood-sucking aliens
The frontline in the war against blood-sucking aliens
2 of 3 Nolan and O'Shea go searching in the local caves
Nolan and O'Shea go searching in the local caves
3 of 3 Bronagh Gallagher - unlikely to call time
Bronagh Gallagher - unlikely to call time

This charming creature feature puts a decidedly Irish twist on the likes of Tremors, Gremlins and Evolution and serves up laughs, scares and, yup, pints and shots aplenty. It’s set on the fictional Erin Island off the west coast of Ireland and concerns a sleepy little fishing village which is about to be rudely rattled by the arrival of blood-sucking sea urchins from outer space. Unwelcome guests to be sure, to be sure. In fact, they're even more annoying than a ferry-load of Jackeens and Yank tourists.

These unwelcome newcomers are a canny mix of the old sci-fi b-movie tentacled monsters and creatures from the deep that have scared audiences for years and that’s the thing about Grabbers - it takes nearly every horror and Oirish cliché and still manages to shake them up for laughs and frighteners.

Our anti-hero is alcoholic local guard Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle), a man clearly bored out of his head by his tired old beat and unwilling to play friendly copper to the eccentric locals. The arrival of by-the-book workaholic guard Lisa Nolan (a radiant Ruth Bradley) further cranks up the dial on his perpetual hangover but both are about to be put on high alert as they are called to investigate a series of fishy goings on around the island including a bunch of badly-mutilated whales down on the beach and a house pulverised by something very big indeed.

Enter regulation good egg English boffin (Russell Tovey) and Lalor Roddy, a salty and sozzled old sea dog who steals every scene he’s in, to piece together what the hell is going on. Without giving the game away, drink plays a major role in Grabbers and director Wright and screenwriter Kevin Lehane smartly turn our greatest weakness into a strength in much the same way HG Wells did in his perhaps more serious book, The War of The Worlds.

And so, taking a uniquely Irish solution to a freak maritime/outer space phenomenon, the locals must remain blind drunk as they make their last stand in the pub (run by David Pearse of Trivia fame) in the hope that a lock-in will keep the marauding teetotal terrors out.

For such a small budget freak flick, the special effects are mightily impressive. There are many schlocky decapitations but Wright also knows that less is gore and he keeps us waiting for sightings of the beasties as they slither around town and across the hills and caves of Erin Island. Bradley, well used to dealing with monsters in her roles in TV dramas Primeval and Love/Hate, and Coyle are both very attractive leads and their inevitable romance is something you want to believe in.

Throw in some spectacular shots of the beautiful Inishowen coastline and a great score and Grabbers will surely grab you. Oh, and let’s face it - watching Niamh from Fair City (Clelia Murphy) being terrorised by the slime-ball, tentacled baddies in an isolated house is worth the price of admission alone.

Alan Corr

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