Northern Ireland

NI backed film Grabbers on release

Scary or what? Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley in Grabbers
Image caption Scary or what? Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley in Grabbers

A comedy monster movie shot in Northern Ireland and Donegal is about to open in Belfast.

Grabbers - described by one reviewer as "the booziest comedy since Withnail and I" - goes on general release around Ireland this weekend.

The film stars Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley with NI actress Bronagh Gallagher, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy and David Pearse.

Screenwriter Kevin Lehane said he got the idea when he was backpacking.

"I kept getting bitten by mosquitoes. Everyone told me to eat marmite because the high level of vitamin is meant to put them off," he explained.

"I thought wouldn't it be funny if they were allergic to alcohol."

He went on to write the story of a small village in Ireland under attack from monsters who are allergic to alcohol - the only way for the villagers to survive is to drink.

"I didn't expect to be a fan of the film... But I love it. The one thing I wanted Grabbers to be was a film I would pay to go and see.

Image caption NI actress Bronagh Gallagher in a clip from the film, Grabbers

"It is really quite a moral story, it is subverting the stereotypes.

"It is an Irish film we haven't seen before, it is big, full of heart and it has got great characters."

Irish drunk

Grabbers tells the story of Ciaran O'Shea, a charming but heavy-drinking local Garda who is tasked with greeting Lisa Nolan, a strait-laced young officer who has just arrived in a small fishing village off the west coast of Ireland.

Strange doings are afoot: the crew of a fishing boat disappears; whales start appearing dead on the shore; a local lobster man catches a strange tentacled creature in his trap.

Soon it becomes clear there is something big out there and it is hungry. It is time to rally the villagers, arm the troops and head to the pub.

Some critics have said the film perpetuates the stereotype of the Irish drunk.

But director Jon Wright rejected this.

"We show that drinking can be exciting, exhilarating and crazy, we also show quite honestly the down side," he said.

"Our lead character is an alcoholic. When we first meet him he is miserable, lost and loveless. We show that being addicted to alcohol is a pitiful condition.

"People who judge us for perpetuating the stereotype have not seen the movie."

He said it was an entertaining, escapist film.

Image caption Jon Wright said it was an entertaining, escapist film

"Kevin set out to make a film that he would go and see on a Friday night in the rain and I think that is what we have," he said.

The film was shot in Northern Ireland and Donegal. The crew used a quarry to recreate sets and took the wide sweeping background of the Inishowen peninsula for the backdrop.

Northern Ireland Screen and the Irish Film Board both helped fund the film.

"Without that money, we wouldn't have been able to shoot in Ireland. The funding bodies are crucial to that," Mr Wright said.

He said he was particularly happy with the monsters that feature in Grabbers.

Grabbers was first screened at the Sundance Festival in January, then in Edinburgh and it opened the Galway Film Fleadh.

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