The strangest, scariest, and bloodiest film festival around kicked off last night as Toronto After Dark began it’s much anticipated run, bigger and hopefully better than ever. The opening evening featured a pair of very well-made films making their Canadian premieres, as the first film lured you in with its charm and a few drinks, while the second tied you down and went straight for your heart.
The festival began with the very enchanting Grabbers, an Irish monster movie that is sort of a cross between Tremors and Jaws, if Jaws got super hammered one night and lowered its standards looking for some young fun. Alien sea monsters fall to Earth, finding a new home on a small (and gorgeous) Irish island, made up of charming and curmudgeonly towsnpeople.
The grabbers in question are green, slimy, tentacle-sporting creatures of various sizes (and masterfully done with superb special effects), capable of puncturing, sucking, strangling, and throwing things for a very long distance, and quickly make for a very entertaining predicament, especially when their weakness is found (not-so-subtle hint: it’s a staple in the Irish diet, and it’s not a food).
Local police officer Ciaran, who is often found drinking, drunk, or hung over, which I suppose isn’t any different than most of the characters, is less than excited when he meets his new colleague, the buoyant brunette Lisa, oozing both enthusiasm and purity (and not a hint of booze).
The two are pretty quick to figure out something is going wrong on their tiny island, what with fishermen missing and dead whales washing ashore.
With just the right amount of romance (somewhere between none and puppy-love) and great attention when it comes to developing some fun characters, this hysterical, well-made and alcohol-infused jaunt is pitch-perfect, satisfying most horror comedy needs. The single-digit body count won’t make for too fun drinking game, but Grabbers should endure time, becoming a fun cultish monster hit.
It was a solid film to start of a festival, easing people into the depravity and horror to come, fueling them with fun imagery and endless laughs –though a round of drinks for the house would have certainly helped.