Main cast: Freema Agyeman (Angel), Charlie Cox (Henry), Eva Myles (Vanessa), Tony Curran (Peter Boniface), Annette Crosbie (Alice), Vincent Regan (The Duke), Jordan Long (Thomas), Billy Cook (Sebastian), Mackenzie Crook (Larousse), Robert Portal (Bingham), Johnny Palmiero (18), Dexter Fletcher (Mr Thatcher), Ruth Jones (Mrs Thatcher), and Lukaz Leong (Chen)
Director: Jason Flemyng
Eat Local is a hip horror comedy. It’s also British, which means lots of one-liners and darkly ironic scenes to give off too edgy vibes, but the whole parcel doesn’t quite work.
When the movie opens, the eight vampire bosses of England come to a remote farmhouse for their meeting, which takes place once every fifty years. Despite half a century since they last meet, the vampires aren’t so buddy buddy with one another. Long-lived asshole Peter Boniface – the only one addressed by his first and last name here – is friends with Thomas, probably because they are both assholes. Henry seems okay with Chen, who seems like the youngest of the bunch, but he’s aloof towards everyone else. Mild-mannered monster granny Alice is all smiles but she makes it clear that she’d like to be away from these bunch ASAP. The Duke, their leader, seems neutral to everyone, while Angel, the sassy black chick, seems to alternate between okay to aloof to the rest.
The remaining one, Vanessa, is on her way to pick up Sebastian, a young fellow who thinks that he’s in for a good time with her. Actually, that’s not quite wrong. You see, one of the first items on the agenda of the meeting is the execution of Thomas, who has been overfeeding and worse, gorging on children, in the last fifty years. The rule is that there must always be eight of them, so the plan is to recruit Sebastian and transform him into one of them. Peter, the only one left out of the loop, is not happy that they executed Thomas without consulting him in advance of the plan, vetoes Sebastian’s recruitment. The poor guy is only aware that he is among vampires when they decide to do away with him, so he has to scramble to leave with his life intact.
But the party is interrupted when the Vatican’s army, led by Larousse, decides to attack the vampires. But that’s before his underling Bingham stages a power play and reveals that he’s in the pockets of a cosmetic company, which has ordered him to keep one vampire alive so that the secret of their longevity can be extracted from the vampire’s blood sample.
Before the night is over, there will be dead bodies. Many of them.
As I’ve mentioned, this movie wants to be cool as hell, but it doesn’t quite get there. There are many good, wacky ideas here, such as the dangerous grandmother and the genial emo vampire who nonetheless has no issues with killing those that threaten the wellbeing of himself and his fellow vampires. The cast is all rounded fun and enjoyable to watch – even Charlie Cox’s character, who is the Louis de Pointe du Lac of the bunch, manages to be watchable without being too much of the stereotypical emo vampire git. Tony Curran of course plays Peter with wicked relish, and Billy Cook is just too cute as the earnest and easy going Sebastian. Only Lukaz Leong’s character feels like a filler here, as if someone forgot until the last minute to cast an actor, and then pulls Mr Leong, normally a stuntman, to fill in the vacant spot in various scenes.
But many of the scenes that are meant to be clever don’t quite reach that point. For example, having Alice become a gun-totting killing machine seems like a good idea, but what ends up on the screen is just an unfunny, ill-executed scenario that culminates in an unnecessary show of stupidity on the character’s part. Another thing is that, for a bunch of vampires, many of them said to be long-lived, they behave more like children trying to cross the street for the first time when the soldiers attack. It’s hard to root for them, or against them, when they never resemble what they are said to be. The biggest problem here, though, is that the movie starts out darkly humorous, and remains so all the way until it suddenly turns grittier, darker, before swinging back to humor again – the transitions are abrupt, like whiplash, and a lot of times I find myself wondering whether I’m supposed to laugh or cringe at a particular scene. The movie can be confusing that way, I tell you.
Still, there is a fun concept here, and no matter what, I find myself feeling quite fond of the cast of characters here after a while. Maybe one day someone will do a better remake of this one, or maybe even a series of comic books. Or something. I feel that there is some really good things here; it’s just a shame that the execution ends up being not quite up to the mark.