A horror comedy where staying alive means staying as drunk as possible? Yeah, I think I can get behind this one. While I wouldn’t suggest getting completely shlammered in an attempt to ward off Freddy or Jason, if you ever find yourself trapped on an island full of tentacled aliens off the coast of Ireland, you better grab yourself a pint and start chugging.
Grabbers is a fun little creature feature with enough liquor swigging to get viewers intoxicated off the fumes, but you don’t need beer goggles to enjoy the hell out of Jon Wright’s film. This slick monster romp showcases some whimsical imagination and light-hearted humor, feeling a little bit like a tonal replica of Gremlins, as Kevin Lehane’s script focuses more on comedic entertainment than scares. Good work fellas, next round is on me!
Erin Island is normally a sleepy little Irish island, which is good because local Garda officer Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) is typically too drunk to be useful on the job. With a fellow officer going on vacation for the next two weeks though, Ciarán is introduced to his replacement backup in Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley). Addicted to her job and annoyingly professional, Ciarán’s alcoholic tenancies are off-putting to Lisa, whose workplace demeanor is equally off-putting to Ciarán. But when a local fisherman finds a strange sea creature and people start disappearing, Ciarán and Lisa uncover a strange new beast that’s threatening the lives of everyone on Erin Island. But how did the fisherman survive his creature’s numerous attacks? Simple – he was drunk. Realizing alcohol poisons these monsters, Ciarán organizes a party at the local pub, hoping to get people sloshed enough to stay safely inebriated and ignore the alien rampaging outside. Hell, not a bad way to go out if worst comes to worst, right?
Combining solid drunken humor with playful creature feature antics, Grabbers creates an atmosphere that thankfully never takes itself seriously, feeling more like a nostalgic throwback to the creature features of old. Don’t get me wrong, our slimy invaders are hungry and violent enough to cause some serious carnage, but I wouldn’t exactly call Wright’s film horrifying. Filled with grand moments of B-Movie glory, you’ll have a blast watching these severely influenced townsfolk attempt to defeat an unknown alien race, mainly because both Wright’s vision and Lehane’s scripting allows for such enjoyment. Grabbers could have easily slipped into goofy monotony, but loads of small-town charm, clever wit, and fantastical thinking keep Grabbers from drinking itself under the table.
Our local cast also make us feel right at home (if Ireland was your home, that is), taking to their intoxicated states with animated enthusiasm and some pretty spot-on drunkenness. The dynamic between Ciarán and Lisa is always engaging and meaningful, exchanging sexually tense banter about each other’s faults, but actress Ruth Bradley is the true star here once she downs enough alcohol to put any of my college binge-fests to shame (well…). Transforming from uptight super-Garda officer to an emotional hot mess who stumbles around like a sorority girl during pledge week, watching her character Lisa belligerently try to save Erin Island provides one of the funniest female comedic performances I’ve seen this year. Mixing elements of fratty college humor and straight slapstick stylings, Ruth Bradley’s portrayal of the boozy Garda Lisa Nolan was pure gold.
While Bradley’s antics shine brightest, the other beer chugging townsfolk are still wonderful to deal with. Russell Tovey plays a marine biologist who gets equally as hamsauced as Lisa, David Pearse provides a high-energy bartender, Bronagh Gallagher is his super-native wife, and Lalor Roddy is the “lovable” town drunk – all rounding out a magnificent cast that pulls together to bring audience members right into the middle of this small town community.
While I don’t encourage alcoholism, I do encourage people indulging in dangerous levels of Grabbers - responsibly, of course. Jon Wright and Kevin Lehane have created a sinfully addicting creature feature cocktail using the freshest Irish ingredients, complimentary comedic flavors to liven up the mood, and a few gory moments of serious monster horror to spice things up a bit – shaken, not stirred. The result? A frothy bit of refreshment that goes down as smooth as a properly poured Guinness. Drink it in people, because there’s plenty of intoxicating pleasure to be soaked up – just try to keep the blood out of your mug.
Out of all the bad decisions you've drunkenly made, one viewing of Grabbers makes up for the lot of them. With or without beer goggles, Jon Wright's film is equally entertaining - and without any regrets the following morning!