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Grabbers (2012): The Moral of the Story


Grabbers (Jon Wright, 2012)

The tentacles of a massive monster loom over the island's bar on the movie poster.

“Go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all this to blow over.”
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There are a couple of dozen ways to get me to watch a movie no matter what else anyone tells me about it. (Earlier tonight I posted on Facebook that the only way it would be possible to get me interested in a movie with the ridiculous title of Witching and Bitching would be to put “A Film by Álex de la Iglesia” underneath the title. Unfortunately….) One of those is casting Richard Coyle as the male lead. I adore Coyle, both in his television work (Strange, Coupling) and his film work (A Good Year, What Rats Won’t Do). But you stick Richard Coyle in a movie about invading aliens and rampaging drunkenness? I’m there with brass knobs on. And so I will not pretend for one second that I will be writing an unbiased review of Grabbers, a film I loved with all my stingy little heart, and I am going to rationalize away a lot of criticisms I have read about the movie that, I realize during rare lucid moments, are all quite valid (including those raised by my lovely colleague over at Nekoneko’s Movie Litterbox, who coincidentally posted a review of the movie two days after I watched it). But you know what? I don’t care. I still loved it with all my stingy little heart.

O'Shea, Nolan, and the local coroner look over a recently deceased orca in a still from the film.

“In my professional opinion, he committed suicide after being in that awful Richard Harris movie.”
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Wright (Tormented) and screenwriter Kevin Lehane (turning in his first feature) give us the tale of Ciarán O’Shea (Coyle), a high-functioning (and I use that term loosely) alcoholic police officer on an island so quiet that most days of the year, he can stay behind his desk drinking. His boss, Sergeant Kenefick (Patriot Games‘ Jonathan Ryan), is going off to the mainland for some continuing education and, for obvious reasons, he doesn’t feel quite confident leaving the island in O’Shea’s less-than-capable hands. He requests a stand-in from the mainland, and gets it in the form of Lisa Nolan (Flyboys‘ Ruth Bradley). She’s upbeat. Worse, she’s a teetotaler. Still, O’Shea thinks he can get through the two weeks with minimal distraction…until the island is invaded by bloodsucking monsters from space. Eventually (normally I would call this a spoiler, but it happens to be the movie’s tagline, so…) the two of them, along with the island’s coroner, discover that the only thing that will keep the monsters away is alcohol. Backup is on the way, but the two of them have to keep the islanders alive until it comes…so what better way than to gather everyone in the local pub and have the biggest piss-up the place has ever seen?

One of the movie's creatures mugs for the camera in a still from the film.

“Look deep into my…eye…”
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So, let’s see. Slimy aliens, gallons of booze, and Richard Coyle. What’s not to love? Coyle is a much-proven comic actor, and Bradley holds her own against him. There was one subplot that was kind of predictable (though I enjoyed it immensely), and some viewers might be put off by the over-the-top nature of the climactic sequence and a few of its build-up scenes. But then if Wright was going for a parody of every big-budget Hollywood monster movie since Independence Day, even in part, I thought he did a pretty darn good job of sending them up while still keeping his own movie relatively down-to-earth. It feels odd to describe a movie as affable, but when I put the two things up against one another, that’s what comes to mind. Other than that, any possible criticisms of the movie that came to mind were minor at best; a few minor characters who could have been better-developed, mostly. In other words, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for a monster movie involving copious amounts of alcohol, you’ve found it. *** ½



About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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