Midnight movies at Sundance can be fun, often offering up bizarre and strange experiences. In the past that has included movies like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (loved it) and Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (wasn’t so fond of it). The real thing to take away is from this section is that you never know what you’re going to get, just like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.
With Grabbers, a UK film set in Ireland, you’re getting something very enjoyable, which will hopefully get picked up and distributed somewhere, even if it’s the Syfy channel or BBC America. I’d even love to see the Alamo Drafthouse pick up this movie with their distribution arm and turn it into a midnight event film. Why? Because the premise involves Irishmen fighting monsters while drunk. If there was ever a perfect movie for a theater connected to a bar, this is it.
Grabbers, directed by Jon Wright, was made through a myriad of funding options, including the UK Film Council Lottery, whose logo is appropriately a hand sporting crossed fingers. It takes place on Erin Island, where newcomer Lisa (the gorgeous Ruth Bradley) has used some of her holiday leave to take a post on the island while the Chief is away on holiday of his own for two weeks. She’s coupled with Ciaran (the talented Mr. Richard Coyle), a downtrodden, depressive officer who has a penchant for the bottle, and while he tells her that nothing exciting ever happens here, she tells him that it’s the quiet places you have to watch out for. Of course, she’s right. Little does she know that things are about to get very un-quiet at her temporary post.
As the film opens, a shooting star, meteor, or something from the beyond descends over the Earth and later crashes into the sea, observed by a fishing ship. Upon closer inspection, strange tentacles burst from the sea and kill everyone onboard, giving us our first glimpse of the grabbers. Local drunk and fisherman Paddy (the hilarious and scene-stealing Lalor Roddy) catches a more diminutive version in a lobster trap, and promptly takes it home. You know, because that’s where you take strange creatures As islanders begin disappearing, and we catch a few glimpses of the main beastie, our intrepid officers slowly begin to realize that something strange is going on. Paddy is attacked by the creature that had been living in his bathtub, although he strangely survives the attack. The same thing happens to Ciaran when he’s at the laboratory of local scientist Smith (Russell Tovey, equally funny), and they slowly discover that these creatures don’t like to feed on people when they’re drunk.
They also can only move around when the weather is wet, and with a huge storm approaching that night, a plan must be put into action. So, our two stalwart constables decide to throw a massive party and get everyone drunk. Nothing can possibly go wrong with that idea, right? To answer that question would be to spoil the ending, but you can probably surmise on your own what happens. But that doesn’t make Grabbers any less enjoyable. Ideally, you’ll be able to enjoy this film with a glass of whiskey in your hand and a pint chaser waiting on the table in front of you, but even if you have to see it sober, it’s a fun, small British film, complete with the requisite British humor and characters actors. It won’t set the world of horror films on fire, but it is highly enjoyable.
The Upside: The lovely Ruth Bradley. Seriously, we cannot stress enough how delightful and talented she is, as well as being extremely attractive.
The Downside: For a creature that devours people and spits out their heads, we don’t see the Grabbers nearly enough.
On the Side: Both Jon Wright and writer Kevin Lehane explained that this movie owes a huge debt to Tremors, and
they’re right. Still, a double feature of Tremors and Grabbers, doesn’t sound that bad, especially if drinks are