Edinburgh International Film Festival

Grabbers (2012)

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

Directed by: Jon Wright

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Ruth Bradley, Richard Coyle and Russel Tovey in monster horror comedy Grabbers

What do you get if you cross the ‘unlikely hero’ rural comedy thrills of The Guard with Ridley Scott’s Alien? You get delightful horror rom-com Grabbers, of course.

Upright, conscientious Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) is posted to the peaceful island of Erin to babysit irresponsible alcoholic Garda Ciarán O'Shea (Pusher’s Richard Coyle) while his partner is away on holiday. Fresh from the big city (okay, Dublin), Lisa is well aware that ‘it’s always the quiet places where the mad stuff happens’. Little does she know quite how mad things are going to get. For inconveniently, an alien flare has deposited a mysterious, tentacled monster into the nearby sea. And it’s hungry for blood…

Together, our odd couple law enforcers, along with over-excitable marine ecologist Smith (a marvellous comic turn from Being Human’s Russell Tovey), drunken fisherman Paddy (Lalor Roddy), bemused country doctor Jim (Pascal Scott) and Brian the pub landlord (David Pearse), must keep the rain-soaked island safe from a predatory creature that loves the wet. Tricky.

Like Shaun of the Dead (and indeed Juan of the Dead), Grabbers is a horror comedy with real heart. Drawing skilfully on stalwart Irish comedy stereotypes (the perma-wet weather, the incompetency of local police forces, the nation’s reputation for heavy drinking and love of ‘the craic’) it affectionately invests these hackneyed tropes with character and life, before turning them on their heads completely.

Our mismatched band of unlikely heroes are beautifully drawn, and the alien, when we finally get to see it, is really quite a monsterpiece, far more fun than anything Prometheus could throw us. There are enough gory moments to keep us on the edge of our seats, and, as you’d hope, it’s riotously funny, with some of the best tentacle attack acting since Ed Wood.

Like Hot Fuzz meets Father Ted, Grabbers is both knowing, tipping the wink to its horror antecedents (particularly Alien, Tremors and Gremlins) in some great set pieces, and also heart-warmingly, realistically naïve: the cast of The Walking Dead may blast zombies to smithereens with rifles, but the inhabitants of Erin Island rely on water pistols and a nail gun. Hooray!

Quirky, funny, utterly charming and just a bit icky, Grabbers is a delight from start to finish, and will leave you beaming ear to ear. Catch it if you can – it’s the craic, to be sure.

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