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DVD Released: 11/12/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/11/2013
Judging by the amount of them which we get, Amercians must love horror movies. Just look at the home video releases for any given week and you'll see at least a dozen scary movies being released. The fact that you haven't heard of most of them is irrelevant -- they are coming out and someone in America is watching them. Our neighbors across the pond in the British Isles certainly release their fair share of horror films, but not at the rate which we get here in the colonies. The problem is that many of those movies don't make their way to America, unless there's something special about them. I can't say that the Irish entry Grabbers is necessarily special, but it certainly does offer a cultural specific plot twist.
Grabbers takes place on Erin Island, a quiet, rural area where nothing ever happens. Garda (= police officer, for lack of a better term) Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) has come to the island to relieve an officer who is going on vacation. She meets her new partner Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle) and learns about the island. Unbeknownst to them, something lands in the water and comes ashore, something which attacks a couple in their home. When Paddy (Lalor Roddy) comes upon one of these creatures, he subdues it and it's taken to Dr. Smith (Russell Tovey), who begins to examine it. Lisa and Ciarán head to the beach, where they quickly learn that A) there are several of the creatures, and B) not all of them are small. When Dr. Smith realizes why Paddy survives his attack, it's up to Lisa and Ciarán to round up the residents of the island and have them all meet in the pub for a very specific reason.
When it comes to recent horror films from the north Atlantic, they seem to come in two varieties -- dour and depressing like The Woman in Black or fun and tongue-in-cheek like Shaun of the Dead. Grabbers definitely falls in the latter category. Despite the fact that some characters do die, the film never takes itself too seriously. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a horror-comedy, but the film certainly contains some funny moments imbedded in all of the monstrous goings-on. We get a nice assortment of quirky characters and the banter between Lisa and Ciaran is fun. Even when on of the more notable characters is killed, it's done in a way which will make you chuckle despite yourself.
The thing which makes Grabbers somewhat unique is the twists which Dr. Smith discovers that can stop the monsters. I won't give it away here (although, every other thing which I read about the movie did), but it's not only interesting, but it plays directly into the way the rest of the world views Ireland. I will say this, the discovery offers a simple solution, which then leads to other problems. Thus, something which could have easily ended the story abruptly merely opens the door to new possibilities for the characters. I can't say that the idea is wholly unique, but Writer Kevin Lehane introduces something which gives the actors a lot to work with and creates some laughs.
In the end, Grabbers creates enough good will to earn a recommendation. Upon closer examination, we see that the overall premise (invading monsters) isn't very original and the whole thing smacks of being a simple B-movie. The movie does run out of gas near the end and the finale is a little too stereotypical. Yet, for this view at least, the film offers enough Gaelic charm to make it intriguing. The monsters have an interesting look, most notably in the way that they move, and Lehane and Director Jon Wright have included some nice nods to other movies, including Gremlins. When you think of Ireland, fun monster movie probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but perhaps Grabbers can change that.
Grabbers, not unlike Milli Vanilli, must blame it on the rain on DVD courtesy of IFC Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. Much of the second half of the film takes place at night, and I must say that a few shots were too dark. Otherwise, the image is well-balanced and the colors, most notably the greens (natch) look fine. The picture is never overly soft and the depth is about what one would expect. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The monster attack scenes deliver a wealth of nice audio effects. The stereo effects show good separation and the third act brings us nice surround effects when the monsters are outside. This gives a nice sense of where the action is happening. These scenes also bring us impressive subwoofer action.
The Grabbers DVD contains only two extra features. "Behind the Scenes" (17 minutes) contains interviews with the cast and filmmakers. The speakers first discuss how the project came together and their reactions to the script. We then get an overview of the cast and characters. Next, the visual effects and the digital creation of the grabbers is discussed and we see some unfinished effects and wire-frame models. We get a nice amount of on-set footage as the stuntwork is examined. The other extra is the TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long