Eat Locals (2017) – Film Review
Director: Jason Flemyng
Cast: Charlie Cox, Freema Agyeman, Vincent Regan
by Roger Crow
Great films are like well crafted tables: solid, reliable, and have legs. So long after the all important opening weekend, they are still pulling in the punters. Eat Locals, a new British comedy horror flick, starts off as one of those movies: a nicely constructed piece of work with a wonderful cast. Daredevil’s Charlie Cox, Dr Who veteran Freema Agyeman, the ever reliable Tony Curran, Beverley’s own Vincent Regan, Annette Crosbie and the sublime Eve Myles are all at the top of their game.
Jason Flemyng has followed in the footsteps of fellow ‘Lock, Stock’ veterans Dexter Fletcher and Nick Moran (both co-starring) to become a good director, but here he’s hampered with a story that goes nowhere fast.
It opens with a bunch of eclectic characters meeting in the sort of farmhouse style abode often reserved for scenes of atrocity (see also Skyfall).
My bad movie radar usually starts pinging within seconds, but thankfully there’s little sign here. As that glorious score plays over the opening titles, Flemyng sets up his premise and his characters with methodical skill. What unfolds is reminiscent of Dog Soldiers with Dad’s Army-style comedic shtick as hapless troops target supernatural forces. Among the bloodsuckers is gun-toting granny Annette Crosbie.
Now pensioners with heavy artillery is one of those gags that’s been done to death. It’s not enough to just expect a big laugh when we’ve seen it all before in films such as Honor Blackman/Richard Briers 2012 horror comedy Cockneys vs Zombies.
As the movie goes on it becomes apparent that there’s not much of a plot. Just a bunch of actor mates having fun with a familiar story. They’re such a fine bunch it’s hard to moan about the humdrum story. But with Sebastian (David Essex’s son Billy Cook), a nice-but-dim Essex bloke thrown into the mix, I expect it to be a lot sparkier. Just a pity the A-list talent has to contend with D-list pratfalls. Co-stars Mackenzie Crook, Ruth Jones and Nick Moran are all used to better scripts than this.
Eat Locals is more sitcom than horror comedy. But while it doesn’t really work, there’s a lot of potential here. Just a shame there’s not more at stake or a sense of peril.
Sebastian shows indifference when antagonists try to eat him. Yes, it’s a fantasy, but every action has an equal and opposite reaction rather than inertia. It’s simple movie physics. With tighter editing and a better script like Shaun of the Dead or An American Werewolf in London, this could have been a genre classic.
Hopefully Flemyng will keep shouting “Action!” With future projects as the man has skills. Just a shame this movie table collapses half way through like a bad carpentry analogy under the weight of too much critical scrutiny.