Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Prime Time: Eat Locals (2017)

It all starts with an argument over feeding rights. Eat Locals is a vampire movie that shows the tricky task of vampires trying to navigate both the modern world and one another. And the best way to do that is to establish rules and rations on feeding. But you just know that there's always someone who will be greedy.

When the plot kicks in properly, Eat Locals focuses on a young man (Sebastian, played by Billy Cook) who unwittingly finds himself among a group of vampires, where he seems destined to be fed upon or turned into one of them. That cannot go as smoothly as planned, however, due to a special little army unit who are out to kill the pointy-toothed devils.

Directed by Jason Flemyng, making his debut, and written by Danny King (who has a number of shorts to his name, and one feature co-created with Dexter Fletcher), this is a film that may have viewers willing it to do better, although it never manages to hit the giddy heights of even an average horror comedy.

People try though, I'll at least say that, and the cast has plenty of familiar faces to help keep things ticking along nicely enough. Freema Agyeman, Charlie Cox, Annette Crosbie, Vincent Regan, Eve Myles, and Tony Curran are the most memorable vampires, Dexter Fletcher and Ruth Jones are a couple living close to Fanged Feeders HQ with their own dark secret, and Mackenzie Crook has a minute or two in the role of a military man named Larousse.

It's a shame that Eat Locals tries to mix in a bit of everything without ever doing it well enough. There's some blood and gore, but usually either hampered by some dodgy FX work or the fact that it doesn't go far enough. There are some very low-key laughs, but this material seems to be crying out for much better dialogue and a number of smarter gags. There are a couple of good ideas as the plot looks, at one point, as if it is going to tie together some separate elements in time for a cracking grand finale. That doesn't happen.

Lovers of vampire movies will find nothing here to draw them in. The sub-genre has so many other films to choose from, and many of those are funnier, or bloodier, or smarter than this. Which leaves the cast as the main selling point. As a selection of names, the list isn't bad, but they have the same problem that everything else in the film has. Nobody gets enough time/space to properly realise their potential. That's a real shame, especially in the scenes featuring someone as great as Curran.

Maybe Flemyng will use this as a learning experience. Maybe he had fun and will just make his next film in exactly the same vein (no pun intended). Or maybe this is all we'll see from him. Not everyone who has a career in front of the camera can slide into place behind the camera. At least he didn't make something absolutely dire though, so that's something.


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