Hungry alien visitors try to make a meal out of a quaint Irish coastal village in "Grabbers," a comedy creature thriller that is a polished, watchable genre entertainment.

Hungry alien visitors try to make a meal out of a quaint Irish coastal village in “Grabbers,” a creature thriller-comedy that is, like helmer Jon Wright’s prior horror meller, “Tormented,” a polished, watchable genre entertainment that nonetheless lacks the inspired dialogue and situations needed to make a memorable impression. Home-format sales should cover most territories, but theatrical export will be spottier.

An apparent meteor’s fall into the sea brings ill tidings for the residents of Erin Island, as it bears nasty critters — resembling a cross between squid and Medusa’s hair — that require only blood and water to survive. They feast first on a fishing trawler’s crew. Next morning, the shore is littered with beached, slashed whales, the first oddity to attract attention from local cop O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and imported Dublin one Nolan (Ruth Bradley). With O’Shea a bit too fond of the bottle, Nolan is filling as his superior while a sergeant is on vacation.

Soon they and marine biologist Smith (Russell Tovey) are in possession of a female specimen, not realizing that the ugly but smallish thingie has already laid eggs, and that a very large mate is coming to their rescue.

The protags discover that alcohol is poison to the monsters, resulting in a simple village survival plan: Lure everyone to the pub with an open bar, and get them hammered. Hilarity should ensue, but the humor drummed up by Wright and scenarist Kevin Lehane is pretty tepid, middlebrow stuff; despite the idea’s potential, this doesn’t come within spurting distance of “Evil Aliens,” “Shaun of the Dead,” et al., in terms of U.K. gore-horror comedics. Character types are likewise routine, with the dynamic between the uptight-city-girl and raffish-country-lad leads particularly rote.

On the other hand, there have certainly been many clumsier and coarser stabs at the same mix. “Grabbers” moves swiftly enough, and the creature f/x are nicely done. Trevor Forrest’s widescreen lensing of County Donegal scenery is a highlight in the pro package.

Grabbers

U.K.

Production

A Bord Scannan Na hEireann/Irish Film Board and U.K. Film Council presentation of a Forward Films production in association with Samson Films and High Treason Prods. (International sales: the Salt Co., London.) Produced by Tracy Brimm, Kate Myers, Piers Tempest, Martina Niland. Executive producers, David Collins, Robert Bevan, Cyril Megret, Samantha Horley. Directed by Jon Wright. Screenplay, Kevin Lehane.

Crew

Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Trevor Forrest; editor, Matt Platts-Mills; music, Christian Henson; production designer, Tom McCullagh; art director, Brendan Rankin; set decorator, Shane Bunting; costume designer, Hazel Webb-Crozier; visual effects supervisor, Paddy Eason; creature effects, Shaune Harrison; sound (Dolby Digital), Daniel Birch; re-recording mixer, Dan Johnson; sound designer/supervising sound editor, Jeremy Price; assistant director, Andrew Hegarty; casting, Kelly Valentine, Victor Jenkins. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 25, 2012. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy, David Pearse, Bronagh Gallagher, Pascal Scott.

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