The films that play on the late night main screen spots at FrightFest are always a lot of fun. After a hard day filled with torture, hauntings, and demonic possessions, come the 11pm movie slot most FrightFesters are in the mood for something lighter, maybe with a side of silly. Crabs! is the movie that just played during that coveted slot on the first night of the festival and definitely fits into those two categories. A first-time feature written and directed by Pierce Berolzheimer, Crabs! offers a modern homage to creature features, particularly those from the eighties, and is not shy about embracing the ridiculous.
Crabs! begins with a beach-set coital session that has a very different kind of ending, the story quickly joins wheelchair bound Philip (played by Disney XD’s Kickin’ It star, Dylan Riley Snyder) and his best friend / crush Maddy (Allie Jennings) in the lead up to prom. Unfortunately for them, their prom is going to be anything but normal after a wave of mutated horseshoe crabs invade their sleepy coastal town. The pair, along with Maddy’s school teacher mother, Annalise (Jessica Morris), Philip’s police deputy brother, Hunter (Bryce Durfee), and exchange student Radu (Chase Padgett), must figure out a way to battle the creatures and reclaim their town for humankind.
Sharknado, It Came from the Desert, Piranha 3D, Power Rangers, and Critters all feel like solid inspirations to Berolzheimer’s work here. Crabs! is a zany and wacky wild ride that throws everything it can into the story; boobs, blue goo, robotics, and Kaijus; the multiple weaves and turns will give you whiplash if you try to keep up. It’s best then to just let the film wash over you, don’t ask too many questions, or put too much thought into the cause and effect, or the plot holes and leaps of logic that are abundant, and just let yourself have a little fun.
Being low-budget in nature ensures that this film can never be anything more than just a B-movie jaunt. The computer effects, whether intentional or not, are cheap and jarring and hark back to the rendering of an early Playstation One game. The crabs themselves are a combination of obvious puppets and people in suits, with plenty of rubber on display. It’s a play that helps cement Crabs! alongside its B-movie peers. The nostalgia is brought out from having giant crab beings that look like a Power Ranger villain of the week helps save face and keeps the movie the right side of funny. Although never quite cohesive enough to really connect to, Crabs! does still manage to be a pleasant enough creature feature on steroids.
Disengage the brain, crack open the beers and let the fun, but flawed insanity, of Crabs! wash over you.
Crabs! was reviewed at Arrow Video FrightFest 2021.