Eye For Film >> Movies >> Crabs! (2021) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Every horror film festival needs a knowingly daft monster movie to relieve the tension, and Crabs! is this year’s Frightfest selection. It features many of the standard ingredients: unlikely monsters, gratuitous nudity, a small town with a doomed prom night. It also has an earnest young inventor hero and a flirtatious schoolteacher. But Crabs! is not very good in the wrong ways.
Let’s start with those monsters. When one goes to see a film with a title like this, one expects to see some serious claw-wielding, sideways-scuttling action of the sort to be found in 1961’s Mysterious Island or the more recent Love And Monsters. People have serious phobias of such creatures and they’re always fun to watch. Instead we get horseshoes crabs which, um, aren’t crabs (despite the name) and which, at least when small, are rather cute. They’re also endangered (at least in the North Atlantic), which makes watching them get stabbed and otherwise mutilated a bit uncomfortable. And they have a rubbish style of fighting, essentially just springing at people, which can hardly compete with tearing people in two and biting them.
Some of the characters are okay. The aforementioned teacher (Jessica Morris) is afforded a degree of personality and develops a relatively subtle bond with police officer former pupil Hunter (Bryce Durfee, who is a much better actor than this film deserves). Hunter’s younger brother Philip (Dylan Riley Snyder) is a likeable lead. He’s also a wheelchair user, which is refreshing in this type of film and, though problematic in some ways (seriously, people, if you’re writing characters like this, ask people who actually live that way whether or not it works), is a considerably better effort that we often see. All else aside, it’s good to see a disabled character given agency. He also gets a love interest in the form of the teacher’s daughter Maddy (Allie Jennings).
So far, so good, but all this positive work is undone by the presence of a fifth main character, Radu (Chase Padgett), who is a racist stereotype of the sort most of us hoped we’d seen the back of decades ago. He also seems to have a learning disorder, and both this and his ethnicity are persistently mocked. It contributes nothing to the film and is deeply annoying as well as unpleasant. One wonders if writer/director Pierce Berolzheimer watched Borat and didn’t realise that Americans were the ones it was mocking.
On top of this, there’s the quality of the effects. Nobody expects a B-movie to look flawless – if anything, that would put the fans off – but it’s one thing to have low budget model work and quite another to have shoddy CGI, which just looks lazy and is boring to watch. It’s not a problem in every scene but it seriously depletes the energy in the film at points when it’s really needed.
Ultimately, Crabs! feels like it’s trying hard to ingratiate itself with fans whose respect it hasn’t earned, as if it has fundamentally failed to understand what makes B-movies fun. Despite getting a few things right, it’s about as enjoyable as the disease with which it shares its name.Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2021