Review: Grabbers (2012)

>> Monday, December 2, 2013

Ireland/C-94m./Dir: Jon Wright/Wr: Kevin Lehane/Cast: Richard Coyle (Garda Ciarán O'Shea), Ruth Bradley (Garda Lisa Nolan), Russell Tovey (Dr. Adam Smith), Lalor Roddy (Paddy Barrett), David Pearse (Brian Maher), Bronagh Gallagher (Una Maher), Pascal Scott (Dr. Jim Gleeson )

Somehow curse words attain an extra level of potency when delivered with an Irish accent.  It adds spice to the expletive--an extra measure of vitriol.  This phenomenon is on ample display in Grabbers,an Irish indie horror/sci-fi/comedy mash-up, in which profanity is drunkenly dispatched in abundance.

The film concerns new arrivals to Erin Island, a small fishing community off the coast of Ireland.  One of the newcomers is Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley), a dedicated female police officer, or “garda” as they are called, who has been posted to a two-week position to fill in for the vacationing partner of the boozy, unreliable Garda Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle).  The other newbies happen to be tentacled monsters that fell from outer space into the sea on the evening before Lisa’s arrival.

The bloodsucking aliens initially devour a few animals and townspeople, but strangely, they prove no match for Paddy Barrett (Lalor Roddy), the aging town drunk.  Based on Paddy’s survival, Nolan and O’Shea are able to deduce the creatures' weaknesses--the aliens dehydrate quickly without water and high blood-alcohol levels are toxic to them.  With a downpour on the way, dry land is not a safe haven from the creatures, so the Garda can only keep the townspeople safe if they can get them as tanked-up as old Paddy.

Grabbers has a boffo premise for a horror comedy, but the execution is a bit more mild than you might expect.  The chills are more silly than scary and the gags are more smile-inducing than laugh-out-loud funny.  Still, the flick has plenty to recommend it, including a scenic location, likeable characters, well-rendered CGI creatures, fun action set pieces, and obscenities with an Irish brogue. 

Best of all, the human cast is excellent, providing much better acting than you would expect from a low-budget indie horror.  Ruth Bradley is especially good as the workaholic cop that cuts loose during the final third of the movie, after downing a bounty of booze.  She is wholly believable and utterly adorable when acting out the blissful state of first-time drunkenness.  She achieved the naturalistic effect by studying a recording of herself while actually intoxicated, and the extra effort paid off tremendously.  Her bubbly, authentic portrayal ranks with the best pickled performances ever captured on film; and it’s hard not to fall in love with her a little.

While I wouldn’t call Grabbers a new comedy-horror classic, it is a genial gem on par with humorous “creature features” like Tremors (1990).  I look forward to revisiting the film for its clever monster set pieces and especially for Ruth Bradley’s enchanting inebriate.

Drinks Consumed--Whiskey, beer, wine, tequila, and moonshine

Intoxicating Effects--Swearing, slurred speech, stumbling, belching, bad breath, brawling, vomiting, passing out, hangover, drunk driving and cycling, and harmonizing

Potent Quotables--BRIAN: So how drunk are we talkin’ here?
ADAM: Paddy-levels of drunkenness.
JIM: (Laughs) You’ve gone off your game, boy.
LISA: Uh, no offense, but I don’t think I can handle Paddy levels.
PADDY: Takes years of practice.

Video Availability--Grabbers DVD(MPI Home Video)

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Rather than being vulnerable to alcohol, the aliens from Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) kill or incapacitate their human victims by injecting them with booze.


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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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