Tonight, after spending a few hours wrestling with data, while the rain fell down outside, I felt like watching a film. My wife vetoed The Orphanage and there was no point even suggesting Rec, even though they would have been good opportunities to consolidate my Spanish lesson. So instead I turned to iTunes, and after failing to find any new generic Jason Statham action movies, we stumbled on Grabbers.
Grabbers is a 2012 horror comedy, and fairly low budget: well, four million pounds would be a lot for me to spend, but I don’t have to buy CGI space monsters very often. It was filmed in Belfast and Donegal, so it’s in that curious sub-genre of horror films that also act as tourism advertisements for the picturesque landscapes forming their backdrops. The only other inhabitant of that genre I can think of is Black Sheep (which is great if you like the idea of genetically modified zombie sheep on the rampage in New Zealand); Grabbers is compared to Shaun Of The Dead in the iTunes listing, which is fair, insofar as it revolves around a pub, and has a British sitcom veteran in it (Richard Coyle), but is otherwise a fairly unhelpful comparison.
Grabbers reminds me a little of Jaws (there’s a grizzled old fisherman, and it’s set by the sea) but more of a weekend I spent in Donegal when I was best man at a friend’s wedding. The place we stayed in, Ardara, is one of those Irish villages nestled in beautiful countryside, with apparently slightly more pubs than people. At the end of the film, as the camera pulls back to show a winding mountain road, I was half convinced I’d driven a rental car at great speed down that very road.
(Rural Ireland is one of those places with youngsters driving cars too fast, and roads with right hand bends. As I drove the rental car back to Derry airport, I saw two lads with an old white Ford Fiesta, parked about a hundred yards into a muddy field, with a trail leading to the car from the apex of the corner they’d missed. I wound down my window and asked if they wanted any help. “No, we’re grand” they’d replied. At least they’re relaxed about automotive mishaps.)
Grabbers isn’t the most amazing film you’ll ever watch, but the CGI is not embarrassing, which was my worry when the film began. I think if there was a film to compare it to, Attack The Block would be better; both have decent CGI, some impenetrable accents and a novel setting. Both are well paced; there isn’t half an hour of scene-setting while you wait for things to get ready, it’s straight into the action.
There’s not much gore, and it’s not overly reliant on jump cuts to scare you. My wife was in fits of laughter at the first severed head, which may tell you more about her than is strictly necessary, and the way the characters discover a way to fight back against the monster feels organic, rather than just some contrived piece of high-concept plotting. Although it is Ireland, so I guess the monster was very unlucky to land there. (I don’t want to spoil what the defense against the monster is for anyone about to watch it, but it’s entirely appropriate for the setting.)
Not as gruesome as Slither, and not urban like Attack The Block, but if you liked either of those two, you’d probably enjoy this one too.