ERIN ISLE is beautiful, isolated, and quiet. There's little for the tiny island's inhabitants to do but fish and drink, both of which they do copiously and happily. It's the sort of idyllic Irish setting where whimsical comedies like Waking Ned Devine take place. Well, it would be, except that tentacled, blood-sucking, alien sea monsters are lurking in the waters. When a particularly drunk fisherman—naturally, his name is Paddy, because what else are you going to name a particularly drunk Irish fisherman?—lugs one ashore, others come looking for it, and soon the island's inhabitants have to rid themselves of the feckin' things.
Garda Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle) is ostensibly in charge of protecting the people on the island—"garda" is the Irish word for police officer—but he's a wee bit too drunk to handle it. O'Shea's also responsible for training a pretty new lady garda, Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley), a prim non-drinker who gets under his skin. Naturally, her teetotaling ways are cause for suspicion. When O'Shea shows up drunk at her doorstep, she throws him in jail for the night.
The monsters—they're quickly dubbed "grabbers," to the chagrin of the island's lone scientist (Russell Tovey)—aren't ordinarily able to move on dry land, but the island's incessant rain keeps their skin wet enough to wreak havoc. Paddy (Lalor Roddy) soon realizes the grabbers aren't interested in sucking dry his veins, which are filled more with whiskey than blood.
The islanders realize their only means of survival is to drink; the monsters aren't able to process alcohol, a sure sign that they are evil embodied. If you're pissed beyond measure, the idea is that the monsters will leave you alone.
This is a brilliant hook for a movie: the protagonists are required to get as drunk as possible. (The list of other movies that could have benefited from this premise is near-endless: Annie, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dying Young, Innerspace, Black Hawk Down, Monkey Trouble, When a Man Loves a Woman.)
Getting increasingly shithoused in order to fend off murderous, quick-moving tentacle-beasts is a slightly flawed theory, and likewise, Grabbers itself is a bit better in concept than in practice. There isn't anything remotely frightening about the monsters, and the dreamy, lyrical dissolves in the film's early stages don't ratchet up much tension. Similarly, some of the characters' drunken behavior is a little too true-to-life: Their stumbling and terrible decision-making grows annoying pretty quickly. Still, there's plenty of entertainment to be had when a gross-out creature feature is folded into a blithe, seaswept comedy in the vein of Whisky Galore! Overall, the goofy scares and the tossed-off air of Irish conviviality—not to mention a cheerfully nonchalant attitude towards rampant alcohol abuse—leave Grabbers with plenty of charm to spare.