Friday, October 19, 2012

GRABBERS (Review) - Toronto After Dark


*Toronto Premiere*

review by AARON ALLEN 

Directed by John Wight
Starring: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey

There are plenty of excuses in this life to get stinking drunk.

Divorce, for example. Bereavement, for another. College, of course. But how about getting completely shitfaced to increase your chances of surviving an attack from blood-thirsty tentacle monsters? Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

In Grabbers (from Irish director John Wright and Irish writer Kevin Lehane), the small fishing village of Erin Island suddenly finds itself under attack by squid-like alien creatures. These blood-thirsty creatures emerge from the sea and attack with whip-sharp barbed tongues that pierce their victims and suck them dry. They thrive on blood and water, but have one fatal weakness: a severe allergy to alcohol. To save their own lives, the isolated residents of Erin Island must do serious damage to their livers as they pound back the beers and the liquor in hopes of staying out of the slimy grasp of the grabbers!

Not yer average catch o'the mornin'
In tone, Grabbers pulls much of its influence from monster and critter films like Tremors with more than a little Gremlins and Jaws thrown into the mix, but its distinctive Irish setting and memorable cast of oddball characters does for monster movies what Shaun of the Dead did for zombies: elevate a relatively tired genre to a place of sharp comedy without losing sight of the scares thanks to its European wit and raucous combination of the horrific and the hilarious.

It's quite a whale of a tale. (forgive me)
While the monsters take most of the spotlight, Grabbers is supported by a wonderful cast of characters led by Ciaran (Richard Coyle), an alcoholic local cop, and Lisa (the ever-so-funny and gorgeous Ruth Bradley), his new straight-laced partner. Along with the town’s lovable old coot (Lalor Roddy), the local marine ecologist (a brilliant turn by Russell Tovey from the UK Being Human), Ciaran and Lisa follow the predictable monster movie formula, even finding the perquisite odd couple romance we’ve seen time and time again. However, while hitting every monster movie cliche imaginable, Grabbers embraces the B-movie structure but gives it a good spit and polish with some genius ideas and fresh gags. Grabbers plays its humor straight as an arrow that hits the mark each time, with rising hilarity as the film goes on. While never winking to the audience or taking itself too seriously, Grabbers is a near-perfect blend of horror and comedy. It's neither too gory nor too silly but is, instead, full of Irish flavour (the scenery is breathtaking) and never veers into the cheese-ball world of excessive Irish stereotyping of which American cinema is guilty (faith and begorrah!).

The most hilarious monster-fighting arsenal ever assembled
Accomplished special effects and CGI creature design round out this wonderful twist on the monster movie formula. A joyous B-movie with something for everyone, Grabbers was overwhelmingly cheered by the crowd in attendance at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema for the opening night of Toronto After Dark. I wouldn't be surprised if it were a strong contender for best picture of the festival. Charming as feck, Grabbers had its Toronto audience hook, line, and sinker.

Just wait until Grabbers gets ahold of you!

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