REVIEW: Crabs! (2021)

dir. Pierce Berolzheimer.

Phil (Dylan Riley Snyder) is a disabled high-schooler whose raison d’être is inventing a device that will enable him to walk again, fuelled by a desire to go to the school dance with his best friend and crush Maddy (Allie Jennings). But when the town is overrun by irradiated, face-hugging horseshoe crabs with a taste for human flesh Phil must put his inventiveness toward a higher cause.

Taking place in an idyllic coastal town filled with characters straight out of an after school special, director Berolzheimer’s debut blends creature-feature horror and comedy. For the small-budget the scope of the effects are impressive and the creature design fun (because what kind of monster-movie would this be without bigger crabs, and then even bigger crabs?).

There is a hint of nostalgia invoked by the late 90s/early 2000s costuming, set against the backdrop of a small town where people still play Gameboys with not a cell phone in sight. However the film falls short in a few areas where it leans a little too far into B-movie tropes, most notably with the character of Radu (Chase Padgett), a Borat-ish caricature of a high school exchange student with an ambiguous accent. Though there were a few times his character provided the intended comedic relief, mostly this portrayal is deeply uncomfortable to watch.

The R-rated opening also feels out of step with the rest of the story, relying heavily on the trope of porn-like sex and female nudity that horror audiences have seen perhaps far too often to be utilized effectively here.

At the end of the day Crabs! is very straightforward, doesn’t take itself seriously and has no ulterior motive (and can, admittedly, sometimes be fun). The minimal use of CGI is reminiscent of the old live-action Power Rangers series, the music well done, and the locations beautiful, even when scattered with innards and body parts. But despite all this the most the film asks is the suspension of disbelief that residents in a town by the ocean do not know what a horseshoe crab is, and this reviewer prefers content that has more to say and asks more of its audience.


Mae Murray

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