Eat Locals Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Spirit Entertainment
Directed by Jason Flemyng
Written by Danny King
2017, 94 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD release on 30th October 2017
Charlie Cox as Henry
Macenzie Crook as Larousse
Tony Curran as Peter Boniface
Freema Agyeman as Angel
What do Vincent Van Gogh, Daredevil, the one-time leading ladies of Touchwood and Doctor Who, Victor Meldrew’s wife and Gareth from The Office all have in common? Four of them are vampires and the fifth is a military vampire hunter in Eat Locals, the debut comedy horror feature of Jason Flemying, himself no stranger to cult cinema and TV. The director’s strong credentials as one of Britain’s most reliable character actors must, in part have informed the fine cast he has assembled here: no A-listers, but a selection of solid, likeable genre faces one and all.
Mulling over the recruitment of a mortal to their number, a clan of vampires convene at a farmhouse out in rural England. Essex wideboy Sebastian gets the thumbs down from snooty Peter, but before the bloodsuckers can cover their tracks by murdering him, the farm is attacked by a squad of military vampire hunters equipped with the latest in slayer technology. Expendable (at best) to vampire and soldier alike, Sebastian is caught in the middle of the bloody battle; can he escape with his life or mortality intact? Will the vampires manage to make it to bed by sun-up? And just what is Dexter Fletcher hiding in the fridge?
Eat Locals is an amusing play on the usual vampire movie tropes, like a reverse version of From Dusk Till Dawn crossed with Dog Soldiers. The fingerprints of Neil Marshall’s modern cult classic are all over this one, from the farmhouse setting to the military action. The comedy is played far broader though, devolving into an only slightly darker version of Lesbian Vampire Killers by the end. It is, however, better than that particular steaming turd. While neither the characters or the comedy ever really connect beyond a surface-level ‘yeah, he’s cool’ and the odd giggle, it’s still a treat for fans of British cinema.
Its large cast is well managed, with the most key members all getting their chance to show off. Tony Curran does suave and sinister well, Annette Crosbie is the ‘zany’ old lady (it’s supposedly funny because she swears and fires a machine gun) and Dexter Fletcher and Ruth Jones hoard the real laughs. None of them have the most range (especially not the wooden-as-Van-Helsing’s-finest-stake trio of Cox, Agyeman and Myles) but between them all, we have a cohesive working unit. Yes, even top-knotted Danny Dyer stand-in Billy Cook, who I started off hating but wound up sort of liking by the end.
None of the jokes rise above the tempo of a mild chuckle, but Eat Locals is good natured and charming. The action, while cheap, is coherent and fun, the pace fast with little filler. While the script is there, Flemying doesn’t quite have the chops to tie it into the tone, which veers from action comedy to bizarrely broad farce (especially once Fletcher and Jones are introduced). Music cues and references to classic film and literature are dropped willy-nilly but, again, don’t fully land, as though we’re expected to laugh just because ‘hey, I get that reference.’
But, for its flaws, Eat Locals is a hard film to dislike. It has a fantastic cast, smart story and likeable disposition. It also ends on a superb punchline (not the song, although that is good too) which left me wanting to see much more of this universe and its possibilities. Like its director, this film is rough around the edges and more than a little workmanlike, but also earnest and always interesting to behold. Undercooked as it may be, Eat Locals has all of the right ingredients, put to good use; From Dusk Till Dawn with a very British flavour.