The Grand Suggests: "Grabbers"

"Waking Ned Devine" meets "Shaun of the Dead"

By Jared Lovrak on September 24, 2013

When it comes to the truly great horror films of Irish cinema, everyone knows the classics: Leprechaun, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Leprechaun 5: In the Hood. ...  What you may not know, is that there are scary movies hailing from the Emerald Isle that don't feature Warwick Davis as a gold-obsessed homicidal stereotype dropped into improbable settings. (Yes, I know the Leprechaun series isn't really from Ireland; just go with it.  I refuse to pass up an opportunity to reference those films, no matter how flimsy the justification might be.)  For starters, there are Irish-themed scary movies that are actually from Ireland, and despite leaving lingering questions about how Leprechauns are able to adapt to both the vacuum of deep space and the rougher sectors of urban America with ease completely unaddressed, some of them are actually quite good.

Grabbers is the latest from British director and relative newcomer Jon Wright. The film chronicles the happenings on a tiny fishing village off the coast of Ireland and provides a fascinating look into the day-to-day lives of its citizens ... assuming that being besieged by eldritch horrors from beyond the stars is just par for the course for your average Irish fisherfolk. 

Ciarán O'Shea, (Richard Coyle, perhaps best known to American audiences for his role as Simon Fischer on TV's Covert Affairs), is the island's sole representative of the Garda Síochána, the Irish police force. Due to the island's remote location and small population, it doesn't require a heavy police presence to maintain order. It's a good thing too, because in addition to being the only law enforcement on the island, Garda O'Shea is also a severe alcoholic, and a barely functioning one at that. Even a cushy job like O'Shea's becomes overwhelming when he can hardly lift his head, and his superiors take issue with the face of their agency being perpetually covered with stubble and a murk of Bushmills fumes, so they assign him a partner. Although officially assigned to act as his backup, it's obvious that Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) is there to keep O'Shea out of trouble, to do the job that O'Shea can no longer do effectively and to act as the respectable symbol of law and order that O'Shea isn't. Just when it seems like things couldn't get any worse for O'Shea, he gets a miracle from heaven. Wait, did I say a miracle? What I meant to say was "writhing masses of vicious, bloodthirsty, man-eating tentacles from space." As the alien menace rapidly multiplies and grows, it's up to Nolan and the newly and compulsorily sober O'Shea to keep their tiny hamlet from becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet.

With hilarious performances and special effects that strike just the right balance between gruesome and comical, Grabbers is a film in the vein of tongue-in-cheek predecessors like Tremors, Slither, Critters and the like, with just a smattering of Cloverfield and the Cthulhu mythos thrown in for good measure. And yes, it really does grab you.

GRABBERS, opens 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28, The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $4.50-$9, 253.593.4474