Directed by: Jason Flemyng
Cast: Charlie Cox, Mackenzie Crook, Freema Agyeman, Tony Curran, Eve Myles, Billy Cook
Because zombie and found footage films have flourished to the point of nausea over the last decade, there’s plenty of room for other once-tiresome sub-genres to thrive. Chief among the sub-genres that deserve to rise to prominence again are vampire and werewolf films. We’re not seeing enough stellar bloodsucker flicks, and we’re not seeing enough kick ass lycanthropic pieces these days. I think I speak for many when I say the handy-cam approach, and the undead shamblers of the world could take a lengthy vacation from celluloid and we really wouldn’t miss them for a long, long time.
It’s important to give credit to those filmmakers out there who respect the genre and the fans. I’m talking about the filmmakers who aren’t afraid to take a risk or two and step back from the trendy crap in order to give us something refreshing. The multi-talented Jason Flemyng (you know him from all sorts of amazing projects like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and one of the greatest fan films ever made, Welcome to Hoxford) sits in the director’s chair for the very first time to guide a handful of top notch performers in the hilarious and intriguing vampire piece, Eat Locals.
There’s probably little reason to jump into a film with a title like that, as it does speak for itself, but I’ll give you a few details you may not glean from the title alone. There’s a group of just eight remaining English vampires, and one has been up to no good, so, he’s got to go. But if the other members of this interesting troupe are to eliminate one of their own, they’ve got to find the right person to turn in order to fill that position. While they do find an interesting fellow who just might fill the slot properly, welcoming him into the fold won’t be easy, as the military has assembled a team and set up a perimeter around the cottage, determined to execute the entire vampire clan.
We’ve got a great group of performers flexing their chops here. Daredevil himself, Charlie Cox, is on hand, serving as the smooth, calculating vampire. We’ve got Tony Curran (another familiar who has surfaced in such pics as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Underworld: Evolution), who basically serves as the rebellious lad. Freema Agyeman is both gorgeous and spunky. Hell, the truth is, the entire ensemble rocks. These aren’t just great performers, they’re particularly impressive together. Lucinda Syson handled the casting (likely with plenty of input from Flemyng) and she crushes it. Couldn’t have done a better job of casting this diverse lot, plain and simple.
The special effects are very controlled, so even in brief moments when it comes time to let the CGI carry the aesthetic, it completely works. The editing is brilliant, transitions smooth and comfortable, every beat nailed, every maneuver used as a valued piece of the puzzle. There’s just no filler of fluff in the flick, and that’s really because Flemyng, the special effects team, editor Alex Fenn and cinematographer Chas Bain are all on the very same page, and they all understand that it’s crucial to use what’s on hand while wasting absolutely nothing.
Eat Locals is a riotous good time with endearing personalities and clever quips in spades. It looks terrific, it feels like a blast of fun, and it’s unquestionably one of the standouts of 2017. It also feels like the perfect companion piece to The Cottage. It’s set in the rural countryside, there’s a sense of panic among the focal group, and there’s a menace (in the mind of the vampire, at least) lurking just outside. These two films were destined to be screened back to back, especially since they both sport a very similar tone. And while The Cottage’s time in the spotlight has passed with time, Eat Locals is a very new, very agreeable piece of work that deserves to soak up the spotlight in 2017… even if it burns some skin in the process.