Take Daredevil, her from One Foot in the Grave and Dexter Fletcher, chuck in some fangs and what do you get? A comedy vampire caper that has no right to work but provides a chuckle-worthy two hours of good-hearted cod-danger.
Eat Locals is the new title from Evolution / Hereford Films. Directed by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ Jason Flemyng in his first time behind the camera, Eat Locals carries all the hallmarks of Hereford’s gangstersploitation – We Still Kill The Old Way etc. The setup sees East End geezer Sebastian (played by the beautifully-named first timer, Billy Crook) as he is driven for what he thinks is a dirty weekend with a lady friend. Upon arrival, he is treated to the sight of Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who) and ramshackle others who turn out to be vampire lords hell bent on divvying up prey from their particular regions. Realising they’re unlikely to see eye to eye with him (with or without a mirror), Sebastian tries to leg it. The whole thing then descends into a very British farce between the vamps, the bad boy and the services sent to keep the whole thing in check.
There are some crimes against script writing here (random references to Tolkien that are duly delivered with lead. Really?). That said, there is a certain charm about many of the performances. Charlie Cox is great value and brings his Marvellous pained morals back to his very English accent and Annette Crosbie yanks her other foot out of the grave and goes great guns in a way that outdoes Honour Blackman’s turn in Cockneys vs. Zombies a few years ago. Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman would benefit from remembering a glottal stop does not a stroppy character make, but at least she’s trying. The show is practically stolen by Billy Crook (sorry) whose utter lack of guile (and oddly hipster haircut) make you root for him regardless. He is every gutsy whippersnapper from Oliver! onwards. The rest of the roles are basically both directed and scripted as a kind of UK-character Minstrel show, with Fletcher bug-eyeing his way through a farmer and Gavin and Stacey’s Ruth Jones being cuddly and Very Welsh. It honestly feels like a panto in a good way after you get past the rather slow intro.
Parallels with everything from Shaun of the Dead to What We Do In the Shadows go down a treat. There’s even a nice little bit of social class dialogue bubbling under the surface that results in a final and very wry political money shot. The cinematography and effects are nothing to write home about, though they are perfectly serviceable. How ‘Danny Dire’ can a load of gangsta vampires be? Answer’s in the dodgy rhyme, but despite a lack of bite, Eat Locals is an enjoyable little morsel.
EAT LOCALS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JASON FLEMYNG / SCREENPLAY: DANNY KING / STARRING: BILLY CROOK, CHARLIE COX, MACKENZIE CROOK, DEXTER FLETCHER, ANNETTE CROSBIE, FREEMA AGYEMAN / RELEASE DATE: 1ST SEPTEMBER (OFFICIAL UK RELEASE DATE)