At the Movies - Grabbers - review

One of the scenes from 'Grabbers' which was filmed on the Five Fingered Strand in Donegal.
One of the scenes from 'Grabbers' which was filmed on the Five Fingered Strand in Donegal.

Inishowen’s never looked so good.

Jon Wright’s (‘Tormented’) sci-fi/horror/comedy, ‘Grabbers’ was filmed in and around the Donegal peninsula two years ago and it’s only after watching the movie that I was reminded of just how beautiful the place really is.

‘Grabbers’, whilst filmed on location in Donegal, is set on the fictitious Erin Island. The local Garda sergeant is going on holidays and he drafts in the help of still green behind the ears Garda recruit, Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley - ‘Flyboys’).

Garda Nolan arrives on the island with a spring in her step but her positive outlook on life is immediately frustrated by fellow Garda and just about functioning alcoholic Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle - ‘Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time’).

O’Shea and Nolan are an odd couple but they are forced to put their differences to one side when it is revealed that a a race of alien blood sucking monsters has invaded the island.

The tentacled creepies start to wreak havoc and soon pick off a few unwitting islanders. But with the help of the ever intoxicated local fisherman, Paddy Barrett (Lalor Roddy - ‘Hunger’) and English marine-biologist Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey - ‘The History Boys’), the Garda duo discover that only way to survive the monsters’ wrath is to get drunk.

The entire island’s population hole up in the local pub, which is run by Una and Brian Maher (Bronagh Gallagher - ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and David Pearse - ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’) and hope that if they all get ridiculously drunk the beasties will leave them alone. If only it was that simple. Made with a relatively low budget of £3.5 million, ‘Grabbers’ is a fantastic example of intelligent film making.

There’s a scene when one of the characters is dragged across the sand and into the sea by one of the monsters on the Five Fingers Strand. At no stage did Wright opt to reveal the horrible creature during this sequence but it was shot with such power and violence that I believed it lurked just beyond the waves.

Coyle is fantastic as drunken Garda O’Shea but his character takes a whole new shape when he’s paired up with Bradley’s young and gorgeous Garda Nolan. The sexual tension between O’Shea and Nolan is almost tangible but when it’s revealed that Nolan has never touched a drop of alcohol before in her life the eventual result is hilarious.

Whilst Coyle is the film’s stand out performance credit has to bestowed upon Lalor Roddy’s weather beaten and alcohol worn seaman, Paddy Barrett. Barrett is the first person on the island to discover the aliens and after killing one he brings it to Dr. Smith and proceeds to ask, ‘D’ya think I could put it up on the eBay?’.

Barrett, like a few others on the island, is fond of his drink and when others discover that he survived an attack by one of the monsters because his blood was full of alcohol they set about making their plan to survive the onslaught.

Despite the film’s small budget, Wright chooses when to use special effects extremely well. Some of the best horror and sci-fi films ever made are more about what you don’t see as opposed to what you do see. The same can be said of ‘Grabbers’. If you’re expecting to see the aliens at every turn in this film, you’ll be disappointed but when they do appear their awfulness is so convincing that you’ll never look at Moville pier in the same way ever again.

The novelty of watching a film that is shot in places that people from both Donegal and Derry will be familiar with is not something that I will ever grow tired of. It’s remarkable watching the blood sucking monster try to kill an entire population in a place where I fished all during last summer but I’ll be a little apprehensive next time.

A sequel is hinted at towards the end of the movie and with the amazing amount of success Wright et al have enjoyed on the back of it, it would be no surprise if they were to be back filming in Inishowen in the not too distant future.

VERDICT: 4/5 - If you’ve any connection to the hinterland of Inishowen then give up 93 minutes of your time and watch ‘Grabbers’. It’s laugh out loud funny, intelligently made and beautifully filmed. From Mamore Gap to the Five Fingers Strand to Moville Pier - Inishowen is every bit a character in this film as the slimy tentacled aliens are. The word slainte has a whole new meaning.