Tuesday 28 March 2023

Crabs! (2021)

If there is anyone who would be excited by the prospect of a comedy horror about giant killer crabs then that person is me. I love a good creature feature, first of all, and I STILL have a hankering to one day check out the killer crab novels written decades ago by Guy N. Smith (if you have read the wonderful Paperbacks From Hell then you have seen some of the wonderful artwork that helped to sell his books). This film seemed made for me.

It wasn’t. It brings me no great pleasure to say that Crabs! was, in fact, utter bobbins, to put it politely. Let me get some info out of the way before I get back to supporting my opinion on this.

There are one or two killer crabs that enter a small town and start to cause havoc. Starting small and vicious, there’s also a major threat that comes from one fast-growing “supercrab”. The main characters are mobility-impaired Philip McCallister (Dylan Riley Snyder), his police officer brother, Hunter (Bryce Durfee), Annalise Menrath (Jessica Morris), and her daughter, Maddie (Allie Jennings). There’s also a “comic relief” character named Radu (Chase Padgett), someone with a dubious accent who gets to act like an idiot until being allowed to have one or two moments of minor heroism.

I am not going to say that I hope this remains the only film ever made by writer-director Pierce Berolzheimer, that would be unduly harsh and unfair. I do hope that he takes more time to consider what he might helm next though, particularly when it comes to the tone and humour. Comedy is highly subjective, of course, and some people may find this hilarious, but I felt there weren’t many gags here that really worked. And, when you consider that the horror of the thing is also played for laughs, that’s a huge problem. In fact, labelling it as a comedy horror probably isn’t fair. It is a comedic creature feature, and your enjoyment of it will depend on how you respond to the humour.

Although it never comes together into one cohesive whole, it is easy to see what has influenced Berolzheimer. The creature feature may stretch back many decades, but the writer-director seems to think that now would be the best time to remind audiences of the less sophisticated films of the 1980s. There are attempts here to emulate John Hughes, Fred Dekker, and Roger Corman productions, and I am not labelling all of their films as unsophisticated, but the end result feels like the unsuccessful films that would try to cash in on their hits.

Snyder and Jennings are fine in their roles, but they are easily outshone by both Morris and Jennings, who just feel better-suited to their roles than their slightly awkward male counterparts. Padgett, on the other hand, is saddled with portraying one of the worst movie characters I have had to endure in recent years. His performance would have been grating in any teen movie from the past four decades, but it’s almost intolerable in this adventure.

The first few minutes of Crabs! actually works, promising a throwback that might be fun. You get some gratuitous nudity and bloodshed, with a deadly crab attacking some unsuspecting victims. It isn’t big or clever, but it works. Things quickly go downhill, sadly, and anyone still invested in the film by the time the deliberately ridiculous third act starts to play out, well, you’re a much kinder viewer than I am.


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