Frightfest has always liked to roll out a comedic creature feature for the late night audience – Zombeavers anyone? So it makes perfect sense that writer/director Pierce Berolzheimer’s Crabs! is offered up as a potential crowdpleaser for the opening night.

But does it indeed please? Well, yes and no if truth be told – there is certainly stuff in there to recommend, and when the film hits its stride it’s a bloody good time, but for chunks it really is hit and miss.

Set in a sleepy California coastal town (surprisingly enough) deep in preparations for that most American of events – prom – most of the action revolves around high-school pals Philip (Dylan Riley Snyder) and Maddy (Allie Jennings). Philip is a science whiz, locking himself in his garage and carrying out all sorts of experiments, with the main focus seeming to be engineering some kind of device that will allow him to emerge from his wheelchair and walk.

Also thrown into the mix is Philip’s brother Hunter (Bryce Durfee) who just happens to be the town’s deputy sheriff, as well as more ‘off-the-wall’ characters including a particularly embarrassing attempt at a ‘foreign’ student named Radu (played by Chase Padgett).

Anyways, against this backdrop we then get a few particularly munchy crabs turning up on the beach, and quickly that few becomes many, with these crabs also able to mutate and grow in size, with their appetite for human flesh growing in tandem (there’s a brief shot at the start to suggest some sort of chemical plant explosion is to blame here, but strangely nobody references it at any point of the movie).

These crabs can also operate quite niftily on land, and soon the town is being overrun by these nasty critters – but can anything be done to stop them…

This is a creature feature after all, so let’s start by assessing the creatures themselves. They look pretty cool in the main, sort of like facehuggers with a shell (and on wheels), and the gore effects when these crabs clamp onto a poor saps’ face and suck it dry are neat (CGI is there, but also a nice slice of practical effects).

When Berolzheimer sticks to that Crabs! is a hoot – there’s a conscious decision to try and give the crabs some personality, giving the film a Gremlins vibe at times (especially when they descend on said prom). But the film just tries to go too far and be knowingly ‘wacky’, and when things go all Power Rangers/Godzilla for the climax I was rapidly losing interest.

Performances are fine – Snyder and Jennings make for a likeable lead couple – although the less said about Padgett’s Radu the better. And Berolzheimer keeps things ticking over nicely, even if the film does lose its head of steam as it reaches the climax.

Clearly set out to be silly, dumb, gory fun, Crabs! indeed turns out to be silly, dumb, gory fun – just don’t expect too much.

Arrow Video Frightfest Review: Crabs!
2.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle