Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Grabbers (2012)

Some exciting thing from outer space crashes down in the Atlantic close to a peaceful Irish island. As it goes with these things, whatever went down contained one big tentacular mommy monster and her small tentacular off-spring, all hungry for a little islander blood.

Island drunk Paddy (Lalor Roddy) fishes one junior monster out of the ocean, which really seems to awaken the interest of the monster family in the possible food source these islanders make. Consequently, people start to disappear. Unfortunately, the place has only the most minor police force in form of two people - alcoholic Garda Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle) and ultra-straight Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) who's on the island as a two week holiday replacement.

With the help of local marine biologist Adam Smith (Russell Tovey), the two cops soon realize the monsters' weak spot: they really don't take well to alcohol. So, when the island is cut off from any help by the genre-mandated storm, the plan is clear: get everyone on the island drunk and keep them blissfully ignorant, while a small core group of drunken monster hunters takes care of the creatures. Turns out drunken monster hunting is more difficult than anyone could have suspected.

Despite what some horror filmmakers seem to think, horror comedies are a difficult thing to get right. Many films seem to think that making the monster "hilarious" (which usually translates to annoying and unfunny) is the way to go here, but usually that way a less than satisfying movie lies, for if there's one thing a movie needs to take seriously, it's its own monsters.

Jon Wright's Grabbers does that whole horror comedy thing right, though, keeping its be-tentacled menace actually threatening and dangerous throughout, building its humour out of the behaviour of its human cast and the difficulties of comically drunk monster hunting. This could still have gone horribly wrong, for, believe the son of an alcoholic there, drunk people aren't generally all that funny unless you're a drunk yourself. Grabbers, however, actually knows what it's doing here, not only making the drunkenness jokes funny to someone who doesn't generally go for that sort of thing like me by actually giving many of it human warmth but also by not coming over like an alcohol commercial.

One thing I particularly liked about the humour was its sense of restraint. While there's a sense of absurdity throughout, and Grabbers hardly lets an opportunity for a joke pass it by, it also knows when to not make a joke, or when to just turn a sarcastic face towards the audience, or let the monster movie just be  a monster movie with a bit of added absurdity. The acting ensemble is very good at transitioning from the humorous bits to the more dramatic parts, off-handedly charming the pants off a jaded and cynical viewer like me.  Consequently, the film is really very funny and works as a monster movie that hits all the mandatory genre beats with verve and imagination.

This is also a film that's very good at using the local - in a funny, clichéd form, I'm sure - very well as a background for its horror story, giving the film a much more believable and interesting feel than a more generic background could have achieved. In this and in the way it works as a comedy monster film, Grabbers is very reminiscent of Tremors, another film with the ability to be funny and still be a real monster movie, just that the film at hand is situated in Ireland instead of the dusty parts of the US. And honestly, once a comedic monster movie can be compared to Tremors, it is as good as something in this particular genre can get.

Last but not least, Grabbers is also a fine demonstration of how good digital effects can be when a production only applies them correctly. There's never a moment here when the (tentacular) monsters look anything less than real - as much as this sort of monster can ever look real - making the monsters as much of a joy to watch as the rest of Grabbers is.

1 comment:

klownz said...

Am going to watch this tonight!