By Jessica Kiang | The Playlist July 18, 2013 at 7:02PM
Set, like the brilliant but underseen "The Guard," in the west of Ireland, and similarly featuring Irish policemen and women (Gardai) as the protagonists, "Grabbers" takes place on a small, isolated island off the coast, on which the small town boasts a single pub, a population of sailors, fishermen, and drunkards, and two Gardai. When the senior of the two takes a two-week holiday, the younger (Richard Coyle), himself a perma-drunk alco with little but scorn for his job, is partnered with peppy, ambitious, up-from-Dublin and by-the-book Lisa (Ruth Bradley). At which precise point, of course, a giant squidlike alien that sports grabby tentacles for tongues (hello again "Tremors") and spawns multiple sluglike offspring ("Slither," you dog!) starts picking people off, so the mismatched pair are forced to work together to... are you getting as bored reading this as we are writing it?
Ok, that's a little unfair, as the plot details do not adequately convey the level of charm the actors, especially our destined-for-each-other lead duo, bring to rather hackneyed roles. And we haven't really even gotten to the big sell yet, the twist of Irishness that obviously made it into the film's pitch logline and is in itself so inspired that you can see greenlights igniting a mile away: the creature thrives in water, and drinks blood to live, but is discovered to have a violently toxic reaction to alcohol. So the obvious solution, when a storm threatens, no help is available, and no evacuation possible, is to get everyone on the island, in local parlance: pissed, locked, gee-eyed, bollixed, hammered. In a word: drunk.
There are occasional laugh-out-loud moments, for sure, and the winningness of the leads makes the inevitable climactic clinch actually rather affecting, but "Grabbers" could have been so much more than the derivative me-too it turns out to be. Thankfully, the films it derives from are themselves a pretty good time at the movies, so while it might not linger with you very long after you leave the theatre, while you're there at least, it's a likable way to spend 94 minutes, if not quite a blast. [B]
This is a reprint of our 2012 Karlovy Vary Film Festival review.