Richard Coyle as Garda Ciarán O'Shea
Ruth Bradley as Garda Lisa Nolan
Russell Tovey as Dr. Adam Smith
Lalor Roddy as Paddy Barrett
Back in May Alexandre Courtès’ insanely creepy indie, Asylum Blackout completely blew my mind. The low key effort proved dark, genuinely eerie and well-written. A standout cast who turned in A+ efforts didn’t hurt the picture’s mystique either. Seven months ago I was certain I knew the indie smash of the year. Tonight, I learned the truth of the matter.
As amazing as Asylum Blackout was, Jon Wright’s Irish production, Grabbers was (somehow) infinitely superior. Having a few journalist buddies paid major dividends, as I was greeted by a friend this evening that’d just got his hands on a screener for this foreign production. He claimed a promising picture waited. According to him, “every critic I follow said this movie is hella good” (yes that is verbatim), and me, being the often fickle and cynical thinker immediately doubted such assessments. My doubts were crushed, broken into a pile of countless shards, worthless.
Grabbers is an amazing piece of work.
Wright’s creature feature is good fun, in every aspect imaginable. The story is terrific and carefully crafted, the onscreen performances are executed without fault and loaded with realistic impact; the special effects are damn impressive, and the humor… ah the humor, perfectly black, perfectly timed and legitimately funny. There’s no fluffed up one-liners that command an eye roll. This is a legitimately funny picture that shocks in all the right spots and keeps the viewer engrained in his or her seat.
The gist of the film isn’t profoundly unique. There’s no beating around that bush: it’s a creature feature, outright. A bright light illuminates the black sky over a small Irish coastal community. Whatever this falling wonder happened to be, it crashed into the frantic waves of the ocean, and before viewers can say what the hell was that? tentacles are tearing through flesh, blood’s being consumed in obnoxious abundance and a creature the world has yet to meet is laying eggs on this tiny island. While those eggs do indeed pose serious threat, it’s the parents of these freakish beings that call for worry; particularly Daddy, who happens to be one massive, menacing beast capable of smelling anyone who’s come in contact with his little family. Again, this isn’t a story you’ve never seen, but it is a film you’ve never seen… a really damn rewarding film at that.
I doubt I can laud the performances enough in this specific case. Richard Coyle portrays the picture’s hero, Garda Ciarán O’Shea, and I’ve got to say he pulls off one of the smoothest, most believable drunks you’ve ever seen on film. A man of the law, he conducts himself in positive and professional light (for the most part) while on the job, but he’s clearly haunted be the past’s ghosts, and he turns to the bottle, glass or flask to chase the demons away. Although his pain is visible, he’s still a guy who looks like he can seize control of a rugged situation when need be. He’s a guy you really like. Not a pretty boy, telegraphed would-be hero, but a ruggedly handsome, respectable guy who you may very well follow in a panicked scenario. And his direct co-star and cinematic partner in profession, Ruth Bradley (Garda Lisa Nolan) is infectious. This woman is not only stunningly gorgeous (think Jennifer Garner, minus the flaws), she’s a superb talent who’s far more than comfortable in front of a camera: she’s completely at home. Her depiction of a first-time drunk is pitch perfect (I’ve seen this behavior, first hand!) and her straight edge when sober works to enforce her stance as the obvious heroine.
While (as I’ve mentioned) I don’t feel there was anything earth-shattering in terms of the film’s premise, I do feel it was clever enough to really leave the head spinning. Once the peace-keepers of this micro-community discover a method to combat the attack of the alien life form, we see one of the more outrageous twists to be showcased in a genre film in years. The battle to survive is absolutely golden, and given the traits of a few key personalities (I’m trying not to spoil this), the sense of irony strikes strong, somehow missing any form of vital organ, and colliding directly with the funny bone. The twist really is glorious.
I’ve had nearly a full 365 days to draw my conclusions to the best genre films of the year. We’ve seen some amazing “commercial” efforts like Prometheus and Cabin in the Woods, but we’ve seen some really impressive indies as well. The aforementioned Asylum Blackout still serves as one of my personal favorites, but Grabbers has grabbed its own place in my personal ranks of best horror films to see release in 2012.
Do yourself a huge favor: see this flick the first chance you get. Whether it be at some form of festival, a simple limited screening, an eventual DVD release, or even a friend’s screener copy, you need to watch this picture. It’s every bit as great as I’ve made it out to be, I guarantee it.