Shock Interview: Grabbers Writer Kevin Lehane


Grabbers is a wet and slippery alien infestation horror coming out of Ireland.

Two Irish cops defend a seaside village from a blood sucking alien threat.  They must find trust in each other and their vices to stay alive! It’s definitely a different take on the genre that keeps it fun without disrespecting it. 

Shock was able to grab some time with writer Kevin Lehane and find out where he came up with such a weird premise, how the classics played a role, and just how alcohol can lead to film…

Head inside for the interview!

Shock Till You Drop: The alien menace in the film is very original. Where did Grabbers come from?

Kevin Lehane: I wanted to offend as many Irish-Americans as possible. I’d also seen Tremors and thought I could rip that off without anyone noticing. These two ideas became the genesis of… no, I better take this seriously. Sorry, I’m just prone to acting the eejit when left to my own devices and asked to promote the film. Basically the idea came about while I was drunk. That’s no better of an answer, is it? Well, ’tis true. I was having a few beers in the Cook Islands, being bitten by mosquitoes and being told that if I ate lots of vitamin B the mosquitoes would leave me alone. I made a hilarious joke about planning on getting so drunk every mosquito that bit me would die of alcohol poisoning, everyone laughed their arses off and congratulated me for my amazing wit, and the rest, as they say, is a six weeks writing, five and a half weeks of filming, 11 and a bit months of post-production, and a film called Grabbers.

Shock: There are a lot of alien horror films out there. Did any influence the creatures or the script?

Lehane: I took inspiration from cats, lung fish, frogs, and a few other creatures, and wanted them to be like a cross between a spider and an eel. I also wanted them to move like those mental spiders in the Sahara that tumble down the sand dunes doing cartwheels. In terms of horror films, I tried to imagine them as an aquatic subspecies of the xenomorphs in Alien. Not necessarily a relation of them but I thought surely that planet where they come from has more than one species living on it and if they do, the Grabbers are the aquatic beasts that live in the rivers, lakes and oceans of their home world. This was long before Prometheus, mind you.  And well before that tentacle looking yoke that tried to rape Noomi Rapace.

Shock: O’Shea and Nolan have a great chemistry. What was your inspiration for them?

Lehane: Lots of Preston Sturges films, really. Also Bogart and Hepburn in The African Queen. And a whole load of buddy cop films as well. The flirtatious bickering was a little more buddy-cop bickering in the original script and that blossomed into what it is in the film. I love quick-witted characters who always try and have the last word and I like characters to charm the shit out of me. They are essentially the tried and true odd couple who are polar opposites and would get the most of the concept of the film. I wanted the story to be about their journey as individuals and as a team. Irish heroes saving the world one drink at a time.

Shock: Where there any major changes in the characters from conception to the final script?

Lehane: Not really. The only character that changed somewhat was the Smith (Russell Tovey) character.  He was written more as a cipher in the spec draft so that he could be tailored to suit the whims of the investors. He could’ve been an American, an Australian, or a Brit, as he is, and it’s the reason he’s called Smith. Once the dynamic of O’Shea and Lisa became more it felt like the best use of Smith would be to make him the English version of O’Shea. Russell then ran with it and made him a little more pompous and endearing in his Englishness. All the other characters pretty much stayed as they were, which is to say, absolute badasses!

Shock: Did you write detailed back stories for the characters or were those developed by the actors?

Lehane: We did a full on week of rehearsals right before filming with all the entire cast and part of that was week involved me providing backstories for all the characters. I don’t like bogging stories down with backstory and much prefer finding out about characters in real time through their behavior — much like how we do in real life — so all that stuff remained off screen but was helpful to the actors. In Paddy’s backstory, for instance, the reason he hates the shit out of Brian is because Paddy had been frequenting Maher’s Tavern long before it was even called that and he was always allowed to bring his dog inside. However, as the dog got older and Brian took over the pub, the dog tended to shit all over on the floor so Una made Brian ban the dog. Paddy begrudgingly left it at home one night while he was having a few scoops and when he returned he found that his beloved dog, his only friend, had died alone in his old house while he was handing over his money to Brian. He never forgave Brian for that. Stuff like that. The actors love it.

Shock: When going from script to screen, there are always changes. Was there anything that didn’t make it that you regret, and conversely, is there anything in the film that you wish you had thought of?

Lehane: So, the politically correct answer is: no, it’s perfect. We regret NOTHING! The truth is, and I think we’d all agree, we wish we had more time and money. There’s a lot that didn’t make it from the shooting script while in physical production and much of that was because of budget and schedule constraints and just shitty luck with the weather. So although the script was pretty complete in terms of going to town on the concept, there are always moments and scenes and set-pieces that I think we all miss. But, look, if we tried to do it all the film wouldn’t be what it is and it’s a great little film all things considered. It was made for love, not money, and we think it shows.

Look for Grabbers this Friday, July 19th in select theaters and on VOD.

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