Boasting the best high-concept of the festival, Grabbers ‘ alcohol vs aliens premise seems tailor-made for for the FrightFest midnight crowd, who often seem to consume booze as much as they drink blood.
So, we went into this particular screening expecting raucous fun from the Tremors meets The Guard pitch of this Irish-set SF flick, which features promisingly scary creatures – the sort that would give HP Lovecraft wet dreams: all tentacles and whirring razor-blade teeth.
Unfortunately, despite charming performances from our leads Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley, Grabbers fails to live up to its back of a beermat plot.
What if you could kill aliens with booze? And what if they invaded an Irish village? And what if the residents had to drink to survive?
What if indeed. We can’t help but wonder what different filmmakers would have made of the above questions, because director Jon Wright and writer Kevin Lehane’s answers are fiercely underwhelming.
It takes a ridiculously long time to get to the key revelation that booze kills the baddies, and even then the information’s delivered in such an exposition-heavy way that all the fun is sucked out of the situation faster than an alcoholic with a bottle of Jack and a straw.
James Cameron famously wrote all of his exposition for The Terminator to be delivered in the midst of action sequences – the information was constantly on the move. In Grabbers , the narrative stops dead to relay facts, and never gets going again.
And, worse of all, Grabbers just isn’t funny. We expected Father Ted vs. aliens; booze-swigging villagers barking insults at hapless squids.
What we got was a lot of talking, a lot of dull ‘isn’t Ireland pretty’ shots, and less laughs than an AA meeting.
Nothing feels earned – from the basic arc of our hero, whose personality shifts to suit the story – to the end shot that suggests a sequel. We’d rather face a hangover than go through Grabbers 2 .
Positives: The effects are impressive, Grabbers ‘ grabbers make most Asylum movie monsters look like they were drawn with pen.
Negatives: You probably have to be drunk to enjoy it.