The closest that I could come to a ‘mission statement’ with this blog is that I really enjoy movies and as a result I try to avoid reviewing those that I don’t like. [‘Mission Statement’: ghastly idea isn’t it? That has to be an American original, surely?] My attitude has always been that no one sets out to make a bad one and I hate to slag off anybody’s hard work. But I don’t mind so much with Grabbers because everyone else seems to love it. So anything that I write certainly won’t affect its fortunes in any way.
At first I was wondering how I hadn’t heard of this. Now I think that I may even have seen it and just blocked the memory out. You know, repressed it as something too awful to retain at the front of the consciousness. I mean, I should have heard of it. I greatly enjoy seeing what can be done with a low budget and I’m frigging mad about tentacled Lovecraftian squid-monsters from space; so how could I go wrong with an Irish science-fiction horror-comedy?
Well, I don’t know. I DO know that I was still sitting there in numbed shock ten minutes after the end credits had stopped rolling, and wondering how the hell this film ever came to be made; and there are so many Irish clichés in it that you could be forgiven for thinking that it was the Brits taking the piss out of the thick Micks. But no: it’s shot in Donegal and has a mainly Irish cast; and even though there is some British investment here, I think that it’s safe to say that this one is down to the Irish.
It actually starts quite promisingly, as a matter of fact. Something huge drops down from the sky, splashing into the waters just off the coast of Erin Island, which is a bleak-looking shithole that I have a horrible feeling I was supposed to find beautiful. In fact I would guess that it’s not situated far from Craggy Island; and indeed as the film wore on and on I was half expecting Fathers Ted and Dougal to put in an appearance. Anyway, a fishing boat goes to investigate and it soon becomes evident that something really unpleasant has come to visit. So far, so good; but then we move onto the story proper.
There’s only two Garda on the island, see, and one of the cops is heading off on holiday. So there is Garda Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle) waiting on the pier to welcome the replacement. And he has a fierce sore head from the night before, so he has, on account of sure isn’t he a raving alcoholic lunatic, so he is. I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming.
The stand-in is Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) from the mainland and you know what those women cops from the Big Smoke are like, all the same. Terrible uptight workaholics, so they are. And character-wise it didn’t get any better than that as we were introduced to stock- character after charmless central casting stock-character.
It turns out that the space sea-creatures can basically live on blood and water. BUT! They ARE allergic to booze. No, seriously. They’re allergic to booze in general and a drop of poitin in particular. Can you believe that? So the only way to defeat them is for the whole village to have a lock-in at the island’s one pub and get completely paralytic.
If this had been made by Americans we would be having a bloody conniption fit over the ludicrous stereotyping.
I actually don’t know what else to say to it. I mean, is it meant to be some sort of post-modernist statement on the condition of the Irish nation or some other high-flying concept that I’m just missing? No, I’m just going to leave it at that. As I say, it seems to have been well received almost everywhere.
Grabbers was directed by Jon Wright (and if I see another slow fade into the next scene I think that I’ll pull my own head off); and it is written by Kevin Lehane.
Oh, and a positive thing to say: the special effects are actually quite decent.
One more thing: twice now I’ve seen this film mentioned in the same sentence as the brilliant Tremors. Now I really think that someone’s having a laugh. One is a delightful low budget masterpiece filled with likeable characters and the Irish one…isn’t.