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Toronto After Dark 2012: Grabbers Review (Robert Harding)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

Grabbers (2012)

Starring Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russel Tovey, and Lalor Roddy

Directed by Jon Wright

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival crowd was out in full force for the festival opener and Toronto premiere of the Irish/UK creature feature, Grabbers. While the film has been likened to Tremors time and time again, I’d have to say that it’s a disservice to Grabbers and its fans. As much as I love the Tremors franchise (and yes the word Grabbers is similar to Graboids), this whiskey filled feature was more akin to Shaun of the Dead and Gremlins than anything else.

When bloodsucking aliens invade an island located off the coast of Ireland, it’s up to a ragtag bunch of locals to defeat them. It doesn’t look hopeful, but when the group discovers that these squid-like bloodsuckers don’t like the sweet taste of alcohol it becomes a race to see who can get drunk the fastest.

Genre films often pay tribute/homage to other films and while self-referential films and homage work really well in small amounts, it takes a well written and told story (similar to Cabin in the Woods) to pull off large-scale tributes. Without clever writing, the film can come across as predictable, unoriginal and in a worst case scenario, a blatant rip-off. While Grabbers doesn’t come across as the latter, it unfortunately does tend to be very predictable with an overwhelming sense of ‘been there, done that’.

Luckily, Grabbers also has a lot of positive things going for it. The film looks fantastic with a nice glossy luster that gives it a bigger budget appearance. I’m not one to champion the use of CG in any film, but the CG in Grabbers does a very good job of blending in with the natural surroundings and rarely looks out of place. The characters are a little cliche, but the actors do a great job portraying them. Their acting, combined with some great jokes and comedic moments help keep the film from being boring.

Grabbers is not without flaws, but thanks to some great camera work and fantastic performances from the actors it manages to be one of the better creature features to be released in quite a while. While the film feels very familiar thanks to paying homage to many well known genre films, pulling from such films as Gremlins, Alien, and Shaun of the dead, it also means that it has pulled some great material. In a sub-genre that has become littered of late with nature run amok films full of giant sharks, crocodiles and snakes, Grabbers is a nice addition that I welcome with open tentacles.

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