DIRECTOR: Jason Flemyng
WRITER: Danny King
When eight vampires who rule over eight districts meet up at an old rural farmhouse for their semi-centennial meeting. They are meeting up as one of the eight vampires has been feeding on children and must be sentenced to death for his crimes. At this same time, one of the vampires has brought along a human to initiate into the group as they always need eight. Little do the group of vampires realise that they are being watched by a group of soldiers. By dawn, there will be a lot of dead bodies.
Over the last several months, I had been hearing rumblings of a vampire movie called Eat Locals. The film had screened at several horror movie festivals and received some solid word of mouth when coming out of most of the festival showings. Over the years we have had a lot of vampire movies coming down the pipeline, and some were much better than others in terms of quality. I was hoping that Eat Locals would join the long list of impressive takes on the vampire mythology.
The thing that really caught my eye with Eat Locals was the poster. I love the use of the fork which is also a metaphor for vampire fangs. Just looking at the poster while never seeing the actual trailer for the movie. I got a very 'They're Watching' type of vibe from the poster. I was actually expecting some Eastern European vampire horror comedy. That's how similar I thought the poster was for this film. The only difference here is that I enjoyed Eat Locals a lot more than They're Watching.
First things first. What Eat Locals gets right is that this film feels pretty original when it comes to its concept. Gone are the gun-totting, leather-clad wearing vampires. You won't find any shimmering vampires in sunlight. Hell, Eat Locals isn't even really that dark. So don't go in expecting some primeval type of blood-sucker. What we have is a group of vampires who are living out their days, watching over their own designated districts. They meet up every hundred years or so during troubled times to discuss tactics. They feel very classy.
While this movie is dialogue heavy at the beginning. It's them introducing us to this group of vampires and a way to reveal that they require a new replacement. One of the eight has secretly been eating children to feed and curb his hunger. This is very much against the vampire rules. So they need to initiate a human into the vamp clan by all agreeing and turning him into a creature of the night. I enjoyed watching these eight different vamps bicker and argue. It was a lot of personality clashing that gave this film a very heavy dose of comedy. For me, the dynamic is what made this film so enjoyable. The banter is the highlight.
As the movie makes its way into its second act. Eat Locals turns from a witty vampire tale into Dog Soldiers with Vampires. Only this time around the army are the villains, and we are on the side of the vampires. A rural farmhouse where soldiers descend on a group of blood-suckers. This is where the movie ramps up the action and gore. We get some pretty low-key action set-pieces, but for me, I found that while the film was still fun, I much preferred the dialogue-heavy scenes as it gave us a chance to really revel in the ins and outs of centuries-old vampires.
Where Eat Locals goes wrong for me is that the story builds and ramps up the action, but as we get towards the third act of the film, it sort of loses steam. While both sides are dodging bullets, it sort of just spirals out of control and I stopped caring. A lot of the characters that I had come to enjoy here are killed off. Most of these characters aren't even given a decent send off either. It feels like the third act was extremely rushed. It felt like they didn't know what to do with the ending, so they decided a body count was the best measure.
We also have one or two subplots that aren't really fleshed out or seen through to completion which is a disappointment. There is a reveal in the second act that Ruth Jones and Dexter Fletcher who own the farmhouse may actually be serial killers. We get a fridge full of body parts, and that's about it. We see Dexter Fletcher's character start butchering people alongside all the vampires and suddenly his character is killed off. We don't get much of a resolution here. It comes back to the story and script not being very tidy and polished.
Lastly, I think this is an incredibly talented cast. It was great to see Charlie Cox look like he's having some fun in a role. I love him in Netflix's Daredevil, but that's a dark role for him. Freema Agyeman is also another actress who I've seen in a lot and looks like she is having a blast here. Dexter Fletcher and Ruth Jones are hilarious in smaller roles. Eve Myles is quite alluring as a vampire as well, and Tony Curran owns his role. So many great actors in this film. It looks like they all had a lot of fun with their roles and it shows onscreen.
DEATH TOLL: 30 (Estimated)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A vampire is shot and staked.
- A vampire is penetrated through the chest with a piece of broken wood.
- Groups of soldiers are stabbed to death.
- A soldier is stabbed in the throat.
- Soldiers are shot to death.
- A vampire is burnt to death at dawn.
- A serial killer is killed by a vampire.
- A group of soldiers is killed by vampires.
- A vampire is dusted.
- A vampire is drained of blood.
- A vampire is repeatedly shot.
- Soldiers have their necks snapped.
- A vampire feeds on a dead soldier.
Eat Locals is quite an enjoyable little vampire romp. This feels like Dog Soldiers with Vampires. I thought the dialogue and banter were great, the cast looks like they are having a ball in their roles and I thought the first act showed the cast having a great dynamic. The movie has problems. The third act is a little rushed, we have a couple of subplots that don't get a resolution, and some may find the tone a little off-putting. I think when it comes to vampire films, there is a lot worse than Eat Locals out there. Sit back with a pint and enjoy.