An Irish Movie where Alcohol is in fact the Hero…wait what?
I do believe I’ve found the most ideal movie for DrunkinaGraveyard.
It’s the day after Mother’s Day and before I forget thanks to all of those whom have raised, helped to or swatted the schite outta’ a little brat when he/she needs it the most. Opinions aside, I’m currently enjoying a day off after spending much of yesterday in direct sunlight.
To make the situation even more transparent we aren’t the best of friends, I suffer from an Irish complexion and much like a Gremlin (in any incarnation) I try to stay out of the sun’s glare whenever possible. Today’s activities should come as no great surprise then. I’ve spent most of my waking hours on my arse. However, the day hasn’t been totally wasted. After discovering a very generous PR company had deposited a much-anticipated new release in my inbox it started out on a fantastic foundation, so well in fact the burning sensation on my shoulders, face and arms was momentarily forgotten. Then my day only got better still. I hit PLAY on a feature nestled on my hopelessly long DVR list, the title seemed somewhat familiar. After only a few seconds I decided it time to get fully relaxed, to surround myself in desirable snacks and drown my gullet in calorie laden beverages, this feature demanded my full attention.
Without further ado and a slew of various meandering streams of narrative, so far from the subject at hand I’d need a nuclear-powered projectile to get me somewhat back on course, I’ll offer my thoughts on…
“Sobriety Kills” what an eye-catching tagline
UK / Ireland
Director – Jon Wright
Writer – Kevin Lehane
Runtime – 94 minutes
Forward Films, High Tension Treason, Irish Film Board
Trailer courtesy of YouTube
Welcome to Erin Island where the community is small, the public house (‘Bar’ for those with a decidedly non-British Isles heritage) is the most visited domicile in the area and the constabulary is virtually invisible. Being as it is a picturesque isle in the middle of nowhere crime is very much unheard of and that’s how it remains until a mysterious meteor crashes miles off shore bringing with it a riotous storm of activity, a few ‘floating’ fishermen and a slew of washed up pilot whales sporting tears in their flesh not unlike those resulting from circumstances far beyond something strange indeed.
This one appears to have a golf ball stuck in his blow hole (Seinfeld… anyone?)
Enter the Garda (the Police – I suspect in Irish/Gallic tongue) Ciaran O’Shea (played by Richard Coyle Whistleblowers series fame) and Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley known for her work in the Primeval and Humans series). Lisa has been transferred (from) off island, Ciaran is gobstruck whenever in her presence, so much so that he spends the first half of the movie looking like a total twat merely trying to get her attention. Both officers are at odds with how to deal with the bizarreness of the situation until Dr. Adam Smith supplies his expertise, a wink, various flirtatious subtleties in the direction of a blushing Lisa and often quirky mannerisms. Dr. Smith (Russell Tovey – a regular on the Being Human series) steals every scene he appears in, even early on, with his portrayal of a character that’s expertly constructed, he exhibits mannerisms that are slightly oddball and yet very serious at the same time (a mixture of Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) Re-animator and Derek (Peter Jackson) from Bad Taste). The dialogue that surrounds his is often humorous, especially if the local drunk Paddy is in attendance.
…kool-aid in little plastic cups (My only talent – I know Bad Taste virtually word for word)
Meanwhile a pair of local lobster catchers have happened upon an oddity…” it’s not a fkn’ lobster”. One decides to take home the oceanic souvenir, a few scenes later he seen comically poking at it, still in the cage, in a bathtub, donning a welder’s mask.
The scene is set for a rollicking monster movie/creature feature (call it what you will) one that appreciatively moves at a fantastic pace. Grabbers thankfully isn’t spoilt with an early reveal, it flows commendably well, helped along the way by shots of an idyllic landscape untainted by industry, applaudable comedic timing, a delightfully ominous and playful score, dialogue exchanges that brought an assemblage of childish smirks to my face, the introduction of a handful of set in their ways doddering, geriatric natives (complete with stop-and-rewind-that-bit heavy accents) and a stunning main cast, a great assortment of types, who push the story’s context along by being very relatable.
The eventual ‘reveal’ is excellently timed, recalling a giant (never mind the pun) of the genre, and one of my favorites, The Thing (with Kurt Russell). The creature is hinted at a little earlier in a cryptic bar exchange draped in an air of inebriated mystery (shrouded in Irish myth and legend, alright I’m done!) and slurred with an air of panache that only a seasoned veteran of the bottle can pull off successfully. The creature is erstwhile dubbed a ‘Grabber’ (a name that sticks to the dismay of Dr. Adam Smith) and following its first appearance there’s no question as to why this may indeed be the case, score one for drunken logic! The antagonist boasts a guise not unlike that of a Lovecraftian creation marred slightly by an Avatar-esque tan exhibiting a penchant for face hugging much like the slimy critters from the Alien franchise. Dr. Smith is quick to point out that its appetite is like a Vampirothothid (I’ll be fucked if I know how to spell it) aka a deep-sea squid who thrives on the blood of others. He continues to get more excited as to his knowledge the lifeform is, as yet, undocumented. Paddy chimes in with perhaps the line of the movie by asking if it’s at all possible that he could sell it “on the Ebay”.
In a standout, stellar scene, we learn of the stunning intellect of the alien lifeform as it marionettes a figure in order to entice contact with others bearing the same appetizing DNA combination. The dialogue in this scene, much like throughout the movie, is remarkable displaying a writing talent with a definite flair for effective humor.
It’s Coody and he’s pissed as a fart!
What does he want?
Another scene worthy of note entails incineration, a sprinkler set up, evisceration and a collective comedic fumbling that puts me in mind of the British series Some Mothers Do Have em’ (starring Michael Crawford also found in the huge hit Broadway musical the Phantom of The Opera).
Maher’s Bar (famous for its drunken intellect and roast beef crisps, or so I’m told) and its proprietor who is incidentally a dead ringer for Neil Marshall (director of Descent, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and Centurion. Can you tell I’m a huge fan?) are introduced early on. This location later sets the stage for a climax in which the whole village is invited. In true Irish fashion, they only make a point of appearing as there’s an ‘open bar’. As the tagline suggests being more than just a little tipsy helps exponentially in lessening the likelihood of being eaten, a predicament that Paddy proves by confessing his liquid diet and continued existence where strangely many have perished around him.
Alcohol and power tools, what could possibly go wrong?
The last twenty minutes of the movie picks up pace to gallop like a methamphetamine addled member of equestrian family as the remaining cast scramble to top themselves off, it isn’t long until they comedically stumble around inebriated and predictably uncoordinated in their best attempts to save the village, themselves and their closest allies from slurred confessions at the most inappropriate of time.
Those viewers that demand a film with quality practical FX accompanied with ultra-realistic make up will be delighted with Grabbers. The creatures are big bold, vibrant, thoroughly impressive and show stunning attention to detail. The CGI utilized is highly effective and thankfully doesn’t take the viewer out of the movie with silliness, although with the comedic values present this might have worked but as it is it the movie boasts high points across the board. The offspring (sorry, spoiler?) are quite possibly some of the cutest lil’ bugga’s ever to be placed on celluloid they resemble an angry, yet curious, legion of animated slug-like pocket pussies (don’t ask how I know of such a thing as I may just be kind enough to tell ya!)
A look at the behind the scenes FX gallery. Are those corn chips, or teeth?
Grabbers in my opinion is a fine example of the genre. Director Jon Wright and creator Kevin Lahane have successfully blended comedy, suspense and a snapshot into the intricacies of small town/island life without once losing sight of the elephant in the room the invasion from unknown lifeforms with an appetite and menacing intentions. A parallel with similar movies however, can be made. The idea of humans being on an intergalactic menu, of sorts, isn’t unique, it has been used before (obviously in Bad Taste) but rarely with such attention to detail, flair and overall brilliance. Kevin Lahane apparently got the idea for Grabbers as he was backpacking covered in feasting mosquitos. He heard an urban legend that eating marmite (a spread rich in vitamin B aka Vegamite in Australia) prevented the tiny critters from biting, with that in mind he also wondered if mosquitos got drunk from peoples blood it was here that the seed for ‘get drunk to survive’ came into existence.
This gent loves the condiment so much he legally changed his name. What a plonker!
The acting far from the cardboard type is very commendable complementing character interaction that’s often awkward, quirky but always priceless. Grabbers flows excellently, frequent shifts to other locations/situations flesh out the storyline without leaving the viewer in a state of confusion as to whom was just on screen, what had just transpired and its overall placement in the narrative.
I guess what I’m attempting to say, in my own special, roundabout rambling way, is that Grabbers is a film well deserved of a place in any fans collection, be they connoisseurs, casual viewers or like yours truly someone who can fully appreciate the finer details that make a film rise above a vast number of stable mates, a great many guilty of the ‘see how fast you can make this and a buck’ syndrome, in the same arena.
Quaint, whimsical, imaginative and other-worldly Grabbers offers viewers an experience they can wholeheartedly enjoy without the bitter aftertaste, regret and nausea a night of ‘putting a few back’ may transmute into the wee hours of the morning after.
Watch this, purchase it and recommend this to all your like-minded friends it’s just that damn good, or as I’m so fond of saying (where I originally hail) Grabbers truly is “the dog’s bollocks!”