'Grabbers' review: Richard Coyle stars in creature feature of the summer

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Here's an old-fashioned "creature feature" in the mold of "The Thing," "Critters" and "Gremlins." What sets "Grabbers" apart is a touch of the "diddly aye."

Yes, this time the beast comes ashore in an island town off Ireland. And the locals -- Irish "types" one and all -- have a grand time battling the thing that sucks their faces off in the night.

Ruth Bradley is a fetching Irish national cop, or garda, named Lisa Nolan who has taken temporary duty on Erin Island. The locals can't help but flirt. Even the only other cop on duty during this corner of the summer. But Ciaran O'Shea ( Richard Coyle) is a lush and a barely functioning one as it is. 

Nothing ever happens here, he tells the new garda girl. Ahh, she says, but "It's always the quiet places where the mad (stuff) happens." 

And so it does. A meteor struck the sea before Nolan showed up, and what was in it quickly relieved a fishing boat of its crew. Next, half-devoured whales wash ashore. A fisherman, naturally named Paddy ( Lalor Roddy), finds something alien in his lobster traps.

"Caught meself a sea monster today, I did."

The local British ecologist-biologist ( Russell Tovey) is puzzled, and nonplussed by Paddy's need to keep the critter in his tub.

"You are so NOT putting this on eBay!"

As the garda and a select clique of locals start to figure out what's going on just as a storm rolls in, isolating Erin Island from rescue, director Jon Wright ("Tormented") ratchets up the energy and suspense -- hand-held camera chases mixed with hilarious subjective shots of the boozy locals trying to stomp the life out of this alien life. 

Screenwriter Kevin Lehane keeps his spirited -- and often imbibing -- characters fun by stuffing them to the gills with funny lines. Asking the aged tippler Paddy "How are you still alive?" earns a droll, "Diet ... and exercise" as he lifts a pint to his lips.

There is absolutely nothing new in this variation on the time-honored creature-feature tropes. But the fun just builds and builds as our heroes and their island come to a solution that seems -- on the surface -- awfully Irish in its logic. 

That lets "Grabbers" take us in its comic clutches and never let go until the foe is vanquished or the pubs close -- whichever comes last. 

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GRABBERS
(Grade: B)
Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Lalor Roddy, Bronagh Gallagher, Russell Tovey
Directed by Jon Wright, written by Kevin Lehane. An IFC release
Running time: 1:34
MPAA rating: unrated, with graphic violence, alcohol abuse and profanity
Photo/Video credit: High Treason Productions