Drink until you start seeing monsters

A wee dram may save your life in Grabbers

Horrible tentacled monstrosities from beyond space are attacking! What should we do? Have another Guinness ya daft bastard!

No this strategy isn’t just a shrugging acceptance of your impending death; it’s an actual survival tactic put forth in the marvellous Irish monster movie Grabbers (2012). Y’see drinking makes your blood toxic to monsters so when Lovecraftian beasties invade a picturesque Irish island community the smart thing to do is get everybody into the local pub and have a piss-up.

This setup makes Grabbers sound like some sort of crass tasteless comedy which couldn’t be further from the truth. There is comedy in Grabbers but it comes from well-rounded characters reacting realistically to an absurd situation and not from cheap jokes. The scary scenes are suitably frightening the monsters are amazing to look at the people are resourceful and easy to root for and the scenery is really nice. It’s a more satisfying creature feature than Slither (2006) and it blends tension and comedy skilfully enough to remind one of An American Werewolf in London (1981) which is a compliment I don’t apply lightly.

A fishing vessel gets attacked by monsters off the shores of fictional Erin Island shortly after a meteorite is seen crashing into the waves. Meanwhile a bright and efficient young policewoman named Lisa (Ruth Bradley) arrives in town only to find herself partnered with the grouchy and perpetually hungover Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle famous to British comedy fans as Jeff from Coupling ). The duo have plenty of weird things to investigate such as several dead orcas washed up on the beach. A local drunk named Paddy (Lalor Roddy) captures a wriggling bundle of tentacles and keeps it in his bathtub. The nasty little beastie (a marvel of special effects) shoots its long tongue at Paddy but drinking even a small amount of the man’s blood makes the monster sick. Lisa and Ciarán realize that they’re in over their heads and radio for help but an approaching rainstorm will cut the island off from any assistance until the morning. How will the mismatched cops protect their neighbours from getting dragged off by the tentacles of a Cthulhu-like horror? Simple. Get everyone into the pub and make sure they’re all good and drunk. These carnivorous super-beings are no match for an Irishman’s blood alcohol level!

As we all learned in the excellent Simon Pegg comedy The World’s End (2013) the kind of bad decisions that always get made in monster films are much more understandable when the characters are all really drunk. It’s hysterical to see lovable but heavily intoxicated people trying to light the wick on a homemade flame-thrower or blissfully snapping cellphone photos of a gigantic monster. Oddly enough we’re still scared for these dummies’ safety even as we laugh at their antics.

It’s decided that at least one of the villagers should remain sober because the alternative would be complete chaos. Perpetual drunkard Ciarán takes on this responsibility while teetotaller Lisa gets ridiculously drunk for the first time in her life. It’s a wonderful switching of roles — we see the two characters behaving in a completely different way from the start of the film with the uptight Lisa giggling madly and the normally irresponsible Ciarán stoically refusing drinks and discovering his true capabilities.

This is good stuff. After years of crap like Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) and Piranha 3DD (2012) we’ve come to expect monster films to be garbage. Demand more from your monster movies. Demand Grabbers .