There is an excruciating moment in I’m Alan Partridge when the titular DJ is trying to win favour with a couple of TV execs form Dublin in the hopes of bagging a job over there. After running through innumerable Gaelic stereotypes, he hits upon the woeful campaign slogan of ‘Dere’s more to Ireland dan dis’. And whilst it may seem odd to say, Grabbers kind of lives up to his ad campaign. Like Australia, New Zealand and other countries that most people associate with looking pretty on a postcard, Ireland has given us a stonking creature feature.
Grabbers was cursed with the cruellest of releases and, like Iron Sky, struggled to muscle its way in the local multiplex. We saw it at this year’s Horror Fest in Melbourne, and it really is a romp that deserves to be on the big screen rather than on your mate’s TV via pay per view.
On a remote island near Northern Ireland, a small village comes under attack from a gaggle of tentacled aliens who have landed on Earth during what appears their mating season. When bodies of local residents start turning up, the safety of the village is dropped into the hands of alcoholic Garda, Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and visiting Dublin Garda, Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley). Upon discovering that aliens are allergic to blood with high alcohol content, O’Shea decides that the villagers must seek sanctuary in the local pub for a lock-in to end all lock-ins.
Evidently, this is not a sombre under siege horror like John Carpenter’s The Fog. More likely it’s a schlockfest in the vein of Shaun of the Dead; mixing comedy and horror in a way that is often forgotten when these hybrids are produced. Kevin Lehane’s screenplay delivers memorable one-liners, but gives us characters we can believe in. Ask yourself seriously if under the same situation, you would act like Bruce Willis fighting off the aliens with a toothpick, or like the village’s drunk, Paddy (Lalor Roddy) wondering how you’re going to come out of this alive and drinking yourself into oblivion?
Jon Wright, who gave us 2009’s Tormented, squeezes a lot out of his $3.5 million budget that would put a lot of Hollywood fare to shame. Not relying solely on the formulaic ‘quiet, quiet, BANG!’ motif that comes with most modern horror – Paranormal Activity, we’re looking at you! – He delivers some literally explosive set pieces that reflect and rift on a number of classics, including Jaws and Aliens. Did we mention how bloomin’ gorgeous it all looks? Wright embraces the Irish countryside in a way that would make Peter Jackson weep.
Grabbers is a booze and blood soaked comedy that deserves a lot more credit than we feel it’s going to get with the rushed release to DVD. A true cult film in the making and a fine tourist campaign if ever there was one.