Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012: Grabbers

I think you can shoot just about any sort of movie in Ireland and it'll automatically be gorgeous.  I'm sure that somewhere out there, there exists an Irish porn flick that, for no reason at all, has long, expansive scenes of mossy green landscapes in between money shots.

It's no surprise, then, that Grabbers — a more or less run-of-the-mill tentacle monster film in the vein of Tremors — is so visually stunning.  The acting is only okay and the story is incredibly thin and full of more holes than your average sponge, but everything to do with the look of the film is spot-on.  The island setting is replete with with lush greenery and rolling hills and cliffs, the fairly well-done visual effects with less gore than one would expect, and the monsters (sorry, 'grabbers') themselves are nicely realized and show an attention to detail that more than makes up for the sometimes-clunky writing and often-forced performances.  But let's be honest - this is a b-movie about giant squid, not The Blind Side*.

The story is one you've heard a million times before.  Uptight female officer from the big city (in this case, Dublin) and is paired with the drunken fuckup male officer, who (perhaps all too quickly in this film) falls for her.  Of course, there's also a giant squid monster that is grabbing people from various locales and inexplicably spitting their heads out, just like in The Blind Side*.  There's a fun cast of peripheral characters, including a marine ecologist who practically runs away with the film, the witty and always-drunken bar patrons who are always good for a one-liner, and a bickering couple who owns the local watering hole.  Everyone's very likeable and, despite being tropes for the most part, provide a fun atmosphere that never feels heavy or requires you to think much about the film.

I think my only real quibble with Grabbers is that Richard Coyle (A Good Year, Pusher) never seems to be having as much fun as everyone else is.  Sure, he delivers his lines well enough and is okay with the physical comedy required for the role, but I can't shake the sense that he seems like he's being dragged through this thing by the other characters, because I've certainly seen him put in more animated performances than this.  Still, it doesn't overly detract from the rest of the movie and the whole piece is perfectly worth your time to check out.  

This is also going to be surprising to everyone, but — very mild spoiler alert — the plot of this Irish movie hinges on everyone getting extremely drunk.  It's always nice to see a movie breaking stereotypes.


*I have not seen The Blind Side

Stay tuned all week for more reviews from the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. You can find them all here.

This review was written by Sachin Hingoo, a freelance writer when he is not working at an office job that is purpose-built for paying the bills while he works as a freelance writer.  His writing has appeared on, the CBC Street Level Blog,, and The Midnight Madness Blog for the Toronto International Film Festival. He has also been featured at Toronto lecture series Trampoline Hall (which is rumored to be excellent). His mutant power is 'feigning interest'. You can read all of his posts here.

Photo: Detail from the movie poster for Grabbers, which is the film that this review is about.


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