Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and recent transfer Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) are police officers on a small island by Ireland. When a strange creature is discovered by a fisherman, it’s up to O’Shea and Nolan to stop the town from being eaten. By pure luck, they find that if a person is drunk, the creatures can’t eat them. Drinking happens to be what the town does best, so a huge party is planned so everybody can get really drunk and survive the night.
This year, Toronto After Dark went with two opening night films. Grabbers was up first, and it’s a pretty good place to start. The film has all the elements that you can expect from a typical TAD film. There’s awesome monsters, a little bit of humour, and just enough gore to entertain the crowd.
Unfortunately, Grabbers takes a bit to get going. The first 30 minutes are pretty slow as we’re introduced to the characters and get a tiny glimpse of the monsters. When one of the creatures winds up getting caught by some fishermen, things start to pick up. The creatures look incredible, although the CG work occasionally looks out of place. It’s the actual design of the aliens that deserves all the praise. Like a strange cross between an octopus and something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, the creatures can be incredibly frightening and funny as well. Think of them like Gremlins. When the aliens first hatch from their eggs, they’re almost cute, and they move and act like curious babies. One scene is sure to remind people of the scene in Gremlins when they take over the bar. Once they start growing up, the monsters are hideous and hungry, feasting on blood to satisfy them.
That hunger for blood is what proves to be the one thing that can destroy the creatures. The first person to find one of the creatures, Paddy (Lalor Roddy), would be the town drunk. He takes it home and leaves it in the bathtub, where it gets bigger and escapes. When Paddy comes home to check on it, the creature attacks him but gives up on trying to eat him. Realizing that Paddy was drunk, very drunk actually, local cop Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and new recruit Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) figure out that when you’re drunk, your blood becomes poisonous to the creatures. This leads them to have a huge party so they can lock the townspeople in the local bar. Keep them drunk and the creatures can’t eat them.
Even though the beginning is very slow, the end result is a fun film. With such great creature design, and the idea that the only thing saving people is watching them get drunk in a bar, Grabbers does manage to entertain. Lalor Roddy manages to steal the show as the town drunk, and watching Ruth Bradley go from straight laced cop to drunken fool is fun. If you can make it through the start, there are plenty of great moments to reward you.
Under the marquee – Will