In GRABBERS, a deadly army of purple, squid-like sea monsters, or quite possibly aliens, wreak havoc on a sleepy island off the Irish coast, turning the rolling hills and lush greenery a deep, chunky red. It's up to O'Shea (Richard Coyle) and his temporary partner Garda Nolan (Ruth Bradley) to stop the slimy scourge of tentacled savages and save lives.
Coyle is the only real saviour of the film as a Garda officer with a slight drinking habit, playing the role straight as an arrow. Russell Tovey, however, is the complete opposite, turning in an utterly dire performance, camp, annoying and humourless.
Pre-festival buzz hailed the film as one that needs to be seen when in a rather lubricated state, perhaps a somewhat meta connection between fact and fiction as alcohol becomes a key part of the story as it unfolds: this is an Irish film set in Ireland that enjoys playing with tired native stereotypes and spluttering derivative humour by way of gags seemingly plucked from other movies.
What GRABBERS does well, however, is capture the spirit of '80s creature features and midnight movies. Writer Kevin Lehane described the film as ALIENS meets FATHER TED. Its heart is very much in the right place with homages to the likes of JAWS and it's clearly a love letter to genre, but it's a very weak-humoured, almost safe effort with limited reach. It doesn't have a serious bone in it, yet manages to mishandle the execution of its tone and ends up becoming not a great deal more than a very silly, light-hearted but ultimately bland horror-comedy that will inject you with a desire to watch GREMLINS or CRITTERS.
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