02nd Sep2017

‘Eat Locals’ Review

by Guest

Review by Matthew Turner

Stars: Charlie Cox, Billy Cook, Freema Agyeman, Robert Portal, Mackenzie Crook, Eve Myles, Vincent Regan, Tony Curran, Dexter Fletcher, Ruth Jones, Annette Crosbie | Written by Danny King | Directed by Jason Flemyng

eat-locals-poster

The directorial debut of actor Jason Flemyng, this low budget British horror-comedy has a solid cast and a moderately intriguing premise, but it can’t quite decide whether it wants to go for scares or laughs and ends up falling awkwardly between the two.

Written by Danny King (Wild Bill), Eat Locals (originally Eat Local, with an ‘s’ being added in the marketing stage) centres on a coven of centuries-old vampires – including Daredevil’s Charlie Cox, Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman and One Foot in the Grave‘s Annette Crosbie – convening for their semi-centennial meeting at a remote country farmhouse. Also present is naïve orphan Sebastian (Billy Cook), who thinks he’s on a promise with vampish Vanessa (Eve Myles, from Torchwood), but is actually intended first as a new recruit and then a tasty snack, after one of the vampires objects to his membership.

However, the coven’s plans are cut short when a team of priest-led SAS soldiers surround the farmhouse and lay siege to the undead occupants. As the house is peppered with gunfire, the various vampires attempt to make their escape, forcing Sebastian to make a series of quick-thinking deals to ensure his survival.

Flemyng is a terrific character actor, but sadly, on the evidence here, he isn’t much of a director. For one thing, the tone is wildly uneven, lurching from painful pratfalls and laboured slapstick to blazing gun battles and a supposedly serious mystery agenda unfolding in the ranks of the soldiers. The problem is that none of it lands – the jokes aren’t funny and the horror moments lack the necessary bite, so the whole thing feels off-kilter throughout.

To make matters worse, the film has no sense of pace or structure, so once the gun battle begins, it seems to go on forever, with no clear sense of progression on either side. This is rendered even more annoying by the fact that the soldiers know that the vampires are impervious to bullets…and yet they keep firing at them anyway.

It also doesn’t help that the film’s budgetary constraints are glaringly obvious right from the start, as a key battle takes place inside the house and the cameras stay outside with two soldiers, watching from a distance. Similarly, the vampire effects extend to a few sets of terrible-looking false teeth, which may or may not be part of the joke, but if it is, then the film fails to make that clear.

On a similar note, Flemyng packs the films with references to dozens of famous films, either lifting lines directly (e.g. “You call that a knife”) or explicitly recreating specific sequences from films like The Shining or The Great Escape. Once again, however, none of it works – Flemyng is content to let the visual reference be the joke, without adding anything funny or interesting that might justify its conclusion (the motorcycle sequence is particularly mystifying in that regard).

As the film progresses, you begin to suspect that Flemyng’s main interest in making it was an excuse to lark around with his mates – former Lock, Stock co-stars Dexter Fletcher and Nick Moran both make appearances, while none other than Jason Statham is listed as the film’s fight choreographer (that scene does admittedly stand out, but only because it feels like it belongs to a different film).

To be fair to the cast, it does actually look like they’re enjoying themselves, with the possible exception of Charlie Cox, who delivers his lines like he’s secretly hoping he’ll get fired.

Ultimately, Eat Locals is one of those films that looks like it was a lot more fun to make than it is to actually watch. Still, at least it’s not as bad as Lesbian Vampire Killers.

* 1/5

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