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Grabbers review

Close encounters of the blurred kind

A midnight movie with matinee charms, Jon Wright’s genial Irish creature feature proved a crowd-pleaser in the late spot at this year’s FrightFest, and seems to have been cannily calibrated for exactly that kind of audience.

“It’s always the quiet places where the mad shit happens,” says caretaker copper Lisa (Ruth Bradley), when she joins alcoholic colleague Ciarán (Richard Coyle) on his patrols of remote Erin Island.

She’s soon proved calamitously correct when space monsters wash ashore and begin bothering the locals, a collection of salty sea dogs, drunks and tall tale tellers, not necessarily in that order.

Ticking all three boxes, Lalor Roddy’s old-timer keeps his surprise catch of the day in his bathtub, a decision the whole island lives to regret…

If sci-fi movies are only as good as their aliens, then even the most seasoned viewers are in for a treat here.

Shimmying across the screen in octopoid swirls, the dark-blue ‘grabbers’, designed by Shaune Harrison, are as beautifully realised as Gareth Edwards’ Monsters (if a little less threatening), and Trevor Forrest’s sundappled cinematography is extremely easy on the eye.

Writer Lehane manages to create a real sense of community on Erin – something Tremors was rightly applauded for – and hits upon the entertaining notion of making the aliens, like the locals, vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.

The raucous centrepiece, in which everyone from Russell Tovey’s uptight ecologist to the island’s old biddies get hammered for their own safety, is great fun, with Bradley proving one of the best screen drunks we’ve seen for a long time.

Although cynics will say the results are too sweet to really fire the imagination – and they have a point, half-hearted decapitations aside – Grabbers is so good-natured you’d be mad to mind.

And frankly, if making well-crafted alien-invasion flicks were as easy as Wright and co make it look, we’d be overrun with the buggers.

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Matt Glasby

Matt Glasby is a freelance film and TV journalist. You can find his work on Total Film - in print and online - as well as at publications like the Radio Times, Channel 4, DVD REview, Flicks, GQ, Hotdog, Little White Lies, and SFX, among others. He is also the author of several novels, including The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film and Britpop Cinema: From Trainspotting To This Is England.