(Jon Wright, 2012)
It's not easy to get horror-comedy right. Most films that straddle the divide between genres are either too funny to be scary or too scary to be funny. A notable exception is Tremors, Ron Underwood's 1990 b-movie classic.
Grabbers wants desperately to be Tremors. It apes it by focusing on a remote community filled with strong personalities, and subjecting them to an attack from a monster like something from a 1950s sci-fi film. In this case, the community is on Erin Island, off Ireland's West Coast. The monster is a tentacled alien sea creature. The characters are the local eccentrics and the two Gardai - Irish police - stationed among them. The comic twist is the poisonous effect that alcohol has on the creature, meaning that everybody has to get blind drunk to stay safe, a . They hole up in the Island pub during a storm and proceed to drink the place dry. But when they run out of drink, they know the creature will be coming.
This nicely high concept premise is generally well-delivered, and Grabbers, through massively formulaic, is fun throughout. It never quite reaches the heights of Tremors, lacking that film's wit and vigour, but it offers a few big laughs and lots of little ones too, along the way.
It starts off slow and quiet, quickly and precisely establishing place and character in the first act - with its many lingering shots of the beauty of the Irish countryside, it would function nicely as a tourist board film - before the Garda begin to realise the threat they are facing. Theres a healthy dose of self-awareness here, beginning with the story idea itself, but also meaning that the genre conventions are toyed with throughout; sometimes followed, others twisted.
The cast are solid and do justice to both the laughs and the scares, and given the relatively low budget, the fx here are superb. Its all quite satisfying, in a low key way; nothing special but consistently entertaining.