Netflix Roulette: Grabbers

Two days in a row… I’m on a streak!

Today I decided to test fate and play another round of Netflix Roulette. Although I didn’t tell myself this on any conscious level, I now realize that the movie I ended up watching may have had the fate of the blogs in its hands. This may seem overly dramatic, but I think another horrible movie like The Mirror could have killed my motivation to keep this thing going. Luckily (at least for me… maybe not for you), the wheel landed on something completely watchable. That may not sound like anything near high praise, but after some of the horrible films I’ve had to endure this summer, I’ll take watchable… watchable it good… watchable keeps me going. In fact, I found Grabbers to be an extremely charming and fun film.

Grabbers is a 2012 movie about a small Irish island that is invades by tentacle-monsters from outer space. I watch a lot of British comedy shows, so, I spent a great deal of the movie going “oh hey, it’s that guy/woman”. Seriously, if Chris O’Dowd popped up in a scene I think they would have gotten nearly every Irish sitcom actor. This isn’t meant as a critique… simply an observation. In fact, I think this was a smart move on the part of the filmmakers (writer Kevin Lehane and director Jon Wright). This movie is meant to be a comedy-horror in the style of Shaun of the Dead and Slither. Therefore, if they were to cast serious actors, many of the comedic moments would have fallen flat… and, let’s be honest, the horror side of the acting does not require heavy lifting… any actor can pull it off… seriously (anyone remember Paris Hilton in the House of Wax remake? The movie was completely unwatchable but not because of her… her performance was passable (I wretch a little in the midst of writing that sentence). In addition, there are several scenes in which the main characters, two police officers, one an alcoholic ((the funny/charming kind… not the real world version (think more Arthur than Nicholas Cage from Leaving Las Vegas)) the other a volunteer who is new to the island, are forging a relationship… this requires them to charming and funny, and both pull it off completely. In fact, sometimes I was more entertained and engrossed with the small, non-horror moments of interactions between characters. That’s not to say the horror moments weren’t fun (they were), it’s just that the leads had such great chemistry that it made it impossible to not root for them.

At this point you probably think I’m going to give this my highest recommendation. Unfortunately, there is one thing about this movie that kept it from being amazing… it is completely and utterly unoriginal. The entire plot and nearly every scene, felt like it was taken from another movie. Perhaps the three biggest influences (I deliberately am using the word “influence”, because I truly feel the filmmakers were doing most of this borrowing and a form of homage) were Jaws, Jurassic Park, and Slither. I also think quite a bit of the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End) snuck in there as well. However, I want to acknowledge the possibility that this may simply be because of the English nature of all four films… so, in order to not come across as completely American, I leave it up to you to decide whether there is a connection here. There truly isn’t an original moment in the film. Remarkably, though, this is not a fatal flaw. Here’s the thing, the filmmakers were able to take all of these elements and make them fit together seamlessly. In addition, they executed each of these elements flawlessly. So, in the end, it felt deliberate and referential to the material it was cribbing. However, this still means that you will not find any turn, any moment, any decision surprising.

So, in the end, if you’re looking for a fun monster movie, and don’t mind being completely unsurprised by anything that happens in ninety minutes, then you should give Grabbers a chance.

Here are a couple of random thoughts I had while viewing the film that didn’t really fit anywhere else in my write-up:

  • It’s weird (in a good way) that a movie about slimy, blood-sucking tentacle-monsters from space makes me want to visit Ireland… but it does.
  • The soundtrack to the movie is all string instruments. It reminds me of old-school monster and horror movies… it’s great.
  • The last line of the movie is a bit odd. For a fun (mostly) light-hearted monster movie it reminds you of one of the (few) downer moments in the film. It then made me expect a different ending scene or even an end-of-the-credits stinger. Though, in the end, I was completely and utterly unsurprised with the last image of the film… shocking…

See you tomorrow with a trailer for one of the (many) horror movies I’m looking forward to this fall.


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