LIFF26 - Grabbers - Cinema Review

'Grabbers shows its rampant brand of genre (mis)treatment when writer Kevin Lehane finds a plot point which enables all of its characters to get royally drunk'

An alien invasion film with an Irish twist, Grabbers shows its rampant brand of genre (mis)treatment when writer Kevin Lehane finds a plot point which enables all of its characters to get royally drunk. It's not the only bit of outlandish, slightly uncontrolled, comedy in a film bearing the moniker of its aliens, so called because they, well... they grab you.

If that simplistic naming convention irks you then never fear, Russell Tovey's uptight English doctor is here to campaign for a more scientific label, and to add some thoughtful reasoning to the plot. Until he also gets drunk. Thus, we have stumbled (drunk) on to one of the film's mains problems, the fact that it wants to have its cake and eat it.

Director Jon Wright seems definitely to be wanting to do something new with the alien invasion film (we're in Ireland, for a start), pulling it down from the galactic to the local, with all the idiosyncrasies that entails. But he is also trapped into a world of clichés, which range from the very existence of Tovey's character to the horrible, yet inevitable, will they/won't they love story, which follows leads Ciarán (Richard Coyle, who looks remarkably like Andy Serkis) and Lisa (Ruth Bradley) from very early doors and seems impervious to being killed off, no matter how many monsters are thrown at it.

The result is a strange mess of a film, which usurps the norms one minute and then reverts to them the next. Coyle and, in particular, Bradley are both good and Tovey's support is excellent but Grabbers does suffer from the proliferation of minor characters who start to detract the moment they show up for longer than five seconds.

The IMDb keywords for Wright's film prove a remarkably succinct way of summing it up. This is the 'Ireland | Drunk | Island | Storm | Scientist' film you've been waiting for. See it with friends and beer on a Friday night for maximum enjoyment.




The 26th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 1st November to 18th November at venues around the city. Programming includes several UK premières, the popular Night Of and Day Of The Dead and a selection of competition films in the Official Selection.

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