Vampires – arguably the immortal stars of horror cinema and television since 1922. It seems there’s always new and inventive ways to reinvent the vampire legend, with many a film or TV Show offering it’s own take on the classic bloodsucking monster formula. Making it’s debut at this year’s Frightfest, Eat Locals is the latest in a long lineage of bloodsucker movies, one that attempts to serve up a fresh idea in vampiric culture.
Actor Jason Flemyng turns his hand to directing in this horror-comedy from the pen of writer Danny King (Wild Bill), which offers something in the way of a modern spin on vampire lore and culture. When eight vampire lords gather at a remote farmhouse to induct a potential new member into their ranks, they find themselves fighting amongst themselves. What’s worse, a military taskforce has tracked them down and is intent on turning them all to dust before the sun rises.
Do not let the title fool you – Eat Locals is not as clever as it’s name suggests. What initially begins as an exploration of this fictional world’s vampire mythology and method soon falls into a simple men with guns vs. bloodsuckers narrative, one which entertains but is pretty short on ideas after an impressive opening salvo.
A cannibal subplot and some gubbins about anti-ageing cream manufacturers using vampire DNA is tossed in but makes little sense when all’s said and done. There are plotholes aplenty (particularly towards the end regarding the fate of one of the vampires) and elements of the mythology King serves up remain under-explored. Characters like Charlie Cox‘s Henry, who has sworn to never feed on humans, are barely developed – seeds are sown but never given the chance to bloom in a satisfying manner.
The hints towards the wider picture of the vampire culture are tantalising, but relatively under-utilised once the shooting begins. That’s not to say the film is bad – Flemyng proves to be a skilled hand behind the camera, delivering some excellent action scenes, creating impressive moments of horror and coaching some fine performances from his talented cast, both dramatically and comedically.
It’s in these moments of pure ridiculous humour that really allow the film to shine – One Foot in the Grave‘s Annette Crosbie toting machine guns with utter glee is a glorious sight to behold, whilst the rest of the cast each get their chance to shine in the comedy department (Dexter Fletcher in particular providing some laughs as an imprisoned canniball farmer). Charlie Cox turns in a grounded and wounded performance that lifts the film beyond just simple bloody violence, despite the lack of character development afforded him, whilst co-stars Tony Curran, Eve Myles and Freema Agyeman each relish every moment of humour and badass action they partake in.
Ultimately, Eat Locals is a film that, whilst not perfect, manages to deliver just enough moments of comedy and horrific vampire action to satisfy horror fans. The talented cast and director rise above the script’s many flaws to deliver a decent action romp, that unfortunately falls shy of being genuinely great thanks to underdeveloped characters, themes and ideas. Destined for cultdom one way or another, Eat Locals may not reinvent the vampire legend but it nonetheless satisfies as an appetiser for the next big vampire movie that’s surely in the works.
Eat Local is available on-demand and in selected cinemas from 1st September.