Sometimes a horror movie exists exclusively to be an over-the-top, ridiculous good time. There’s no deeper message and no real attempt to move people emotionally–just creators having a good time putting a cast in ridiculous situations and tossing a whole bunch of blood on them. Crabs! is that kind of movie.

As you can imagine from the title, this is not fine cinema or an art house think piece. If you were to put ‘American Pie,’ ‘Spy Kids’ and that one bar scene from ‘Gremlins’ in a blender and hit pulverize, the end result would be ‘Crabs!’.

This kicked off my Panic Film Festival 2022 weekend, and as it opened I set my expectations pretty low and prepared to just have fun. The titular crabs enter the story pretty quickly as a “pervy little horseshoe crab” rolls up to watch a beautiful young couple having sex on a secluded beach before taking care of his own business…which is apparently tearing them to bits. Cut to the real story where we meet teenage Phillip (Dylan Riley Snyder) who appears to be paralyzed from the waist down and his friend Maddy (Allie Jennings). Phillip is a bit of a mad scientist, always tinkering and ordering gadgets with nuclear-level power sources from overseas to make his creations–most of which go towards the goal of helping him walk again . As you can imagine, this comes in handy as the crabs come to wreak havoc on the small coastal town. I don’t know why these regular everyday crabs have become bloodthirsty or why they now come in three sizes, but I also don’t care.

Crabs! knows exactly what it’s doing. Everyone in this movie has committed 100% to how ridiculous it is.

I know what you’re thinking: “this sounds cheesy, why are we talking about this?”. So let me tell you where Crabs! shines.

Crabs! knows exactly what it’s doing. Everyone in this movie has committed 100% to how ridiculous it is and plays it like a 90s-style wholesome family film (down to an absolutely delightful montage segment) loaded with profanity, gore, and crabtastic mayhem. The practical effects are everything you’d want them to be with almost everyone covered in blood by the time the credits roll.

The digital effects have a definite “90s SyFy channel original” vibe to them which is, admittedly, not for everyone. The characters themselves are pretty cliche but, again, we’re not looking for depth here. One treat in particular is foreign exchange student Radu (Chase Padgett) who somehow provides another level of comic relief in a movie that is already 100% comic relief. Over the course of the film my feelings about Radu went from “this character is pointless and annoying” to “this is the only character that matters. Radu for sheriff!”

‘Crabs!’ is big, dumb, bloody fun from start to finish. Throw it on with your friends over some beers and just enjoy it for what it is. I did.