“Vampires with machine guns … what’s not to love?” runs the strap-line for Eat Locals, a line from the script; in the film, its garbled delivery is almost unintelligible. And that’s symptomatic of the entire project. There’s plenty of decent talent both behind and in front of the cameras, most of them doing good work. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of focus that mainly stems from the writing – which probably looked great on paper – that leaves Eat Locals so far adrift tonally, it’s hard to be certain what it really wants to be or say.
Actually, what it wants to be is patently obvious. This is Jason Flemyng’s directing debut – notably his father supervised the 1960s Dalek films – and it’s clear he’s aiming to emulate Edgar Wright, with a hint of Joe Cornish. The languorous long takes interspersed with quick bouts of idiosyncratic kinetics, the left-field musical choices, the distinctive compositions; all are present and correct, such that Eat Locals manages that graphic novel feel so sought after among emerging British film-makers. But the comedy and characterisation are so sorely absent, it’s impossible to engage with what’s happening on screen.
Newcomer Billy Cook is Sebastian, invited to unwittingly join a council of vampires on their five-yearly meet-up on the very night the Vatican has sent its military division to seek the bloodsuckers out. Essentially what we get, therefore, is an all-night siege with the bickering undead hiding out in an isolated farmhouse while the poorly prepared soldiers work out what to do about them. Shades of Dog Soldiers, of course, especially in the substitution of humour and ostensible action in place of horror.
But what Danny King’s script provides is simply a series of situations included because they presumably felt either cool or interesting, rather than because the characters would have prompted their happening. Thus the actors, who are certainly game enough to try and make things work, end up behaving without any rationality, and rather than promoting a tension about what’s going to happen next, Eat Locals instead begs the response “WTF’s going to happen now?”
It has its moments, certainly. Any one of its scenes might have made a worthwhile basis for another film coherent to what’s occurring therein. But jumbled together like this, Eat Locals isn’t funny, it’s not exciting, has no scares, and very little of it manages to stick long enough to live on in the mind. It’s not exactly tedious, it just lacks the consistency necessary to matter, to make the viewer care.
There is enough ability here for sure to make this worth a look. But somewhere between page and screen, whatever it was that attracted all that talent has evaporated into the night.
Extras: Making of, cast interviews, Danny King interview
EAT LOCALS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JASON FLEMYNG / SCREENPLAY: DANNY KING / STARRING: BILLY COOK, ANNETTE CROSBIE, VINCENT REGAN, TONY CURRAN, EVE MYLES, FREEMA AGYEMAN, MACKENZIE CROOK, CHARLIE COX, DEXTER FLETCHER, RUTH JONES, JOHNNY PALMIERO, LUKAZ LEONG / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW