Every fifty years, the top vampires in the UK gather in one location. They discuss their upcoming plans. They settle old scores. They make peace or declare war. Actually, I’m perhaps giving them a bit too much credit. Judging from the 2017 film, Eat Locals, they spend most of their time being bitchy and plotting against each other. Vampires are apparently not the easiest creatures to get along with.
Their latest meeting is taking place at a farmhouse out in the country. In theory, the farmhouse should be isolated enough for the vampires to meet in peace but it doesn’t turn out that way. First, Vanessa (Eva Myles) shows up with a human hitchhiker named Sebastian (Billy Cook). Sebastian may think he’s going to get laid but it turns out that the vampires are more interested in eating a local. Then, a bunch of British soldiers show up. It turns out that they’re from the special vampire squad and they’re determined to take out all the top vampires all at once. Their leader is also apparently interested in collecting vampire blood, which he can then sell to a cosmetics company. Want to defy aging? Vampire blood’s the answer!
I watched Eat Locals last Halloween. My friends and I had previously watched (at my insistence) Vampire Circus and we decided to follow it up with another British vampire film, this one a more recent one. (Vampire Circus was released in 1972. Eat Locals, on the other hand, was released 45 years later, in 2017.) As an unapologetic horror snob, I was a bit skeptical about Eat Locals and, when the film started, I may have groaned a little because it became obvious that this was going to be one of those films where people spent a lot of time sitting around in an unlit room. But still, I gave it a chance.
And, ultimately, Eat Locals turned out to be better than I was expecting. The film has its flaws but it was hard not to admire its determination to stay true to its concept, even at the risk of alienating its audience. Eat Locals pretty much takes place in one location. This means that, for all of the build-up, the first big battle between the soldiers and the vampires largely takes place off-screen. That’s the sort of narrative decision that will undoubtedly turn off a lot of viewers but I actually liked the staginess of it all. At a time when other directors would have cut away and wasted a lot of money on an action scene that wouldn’t have added much to the film’s narrative, director Jason Flemyng (who is better known as an actor) sticks with the vampires.
Unfortunately, the vampires aren’t always as interesting as the film seems to think that they are. They’re all very arch and very British but most of them don’t have much personality beyond that. A few of them, however, are memorable as a result of the efforts of the talented cast. Charlie Cox, Freeman Agyeman, Vincent Regan all make a favorable impression with their fanged roles. As for the soldiers, they’re all very British as well. If you’ve ever watched any film about the UK Special Forces, you will immediately recognize every type of character and situation that Eat Locals satirizes.
Eat Locals is an uneven film and the narrative momentum lags during its final few minutes. In many ways, it feels like a really clever short film that’s been expanded upon. That said, there’s enough vampiric satire and uniquely British humor to make the film an entertaining watch.