The final film of the first evening at this year’s FrightFest the 13th festivities, John Wright’s Grabbers came into the festival with positive buzz from successful screenings at both Sundace and Edinburgh Film Festivals.
On a small remote island off the coast of Ireland, Garda officer Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) reluctantly welcomes temporary Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) who’s been assigned to help out as his superior goes on vacation. But when a strange meteor hits the sea and releases some even stranger creatures it’s not long before they make their way to the land and start causing havoc with the locals, leading the people of the town to fight back, but in a very peculiar way.
A fantastic homage to the ‘mini’ monster movies of the 80s such as Critters, Gremlins and Tremors, Grabbers manages to take that familiar Joe Dante-esque formula and use it, without feeling out of place, in an Irish setting. The laughs are there, the thrills, even the stunning score from Christian Henson harking back to the much loved era. Everything just seems to fit together with the small town dynamic not much different from its American counterparts, it’s just the inclusion of the unique Irish humour and known archetypes that make it feel so refreshing.
Lehane’s script innocently captures the fun of a good monster movie and bottles it, gleefully shaking it up and then, screwing of the cap, releases its fizzy goodness into some real moments of hilarity. And with quality Hollywood level special effects to back it up, there can be no argument that this is a worthy addition to the sub-genre of films which it draws its influence. Wright’s direction fits perfectly as well, having just enough of an emotional impact that you become invested in the characters, meaning that it can’t get washed out with its light-hearted approach.
Doyle and Bradley are excellent as the leads, they have some decent chemistry and with romance story between them, being so sweetly handled as it is, you can’t help but cheer for them. And with some memorable character actors in supporting roles, Grabbers is pure entertainment. With a great sense of fun and plenty of laughs, I will return to Grabbers many times in the future for my monster movie fix.