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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Eat Locals

My notes on the British vampire comedy.

This low-budget, archly-titled British horror-comedy — kind of an inside-out Dog Soldiers, with vampires instead of werewolves and squaddies besieging the farmhouse rather than being besieged — is a directorial debut of actor Jason Flemyng, whose strongest suit might be having the connections to get a terrific cast to turn up and pitch in for a lark, many in quite minor roles.  Compare the line-up of Dead Cert (another vampire film which has some of the same creative personnel, including Flemyng) with the cast list for an idea how far you can get if you’ve got a well-stocked address book and don’t need to rely on Craig Fairbrass or Danny Dyer for star power.  Average lad Sebastian (Billy Cook) is picked up by femme fatale Vanessa (Eve Myles, from Torchwood) and taken to a remote farmhouse where he assumes he’s going to have a wild night – which he is, only as a snack (or potential recruit) rather than a sex-toy.  Gathering in the house are eight long-lived, yet petty bloodsuckers who constitute the entire vampire population of the UK – with a few Brexit-themed jokes about the continental overlords who keep them in their place and restrict the numbers.  As the vampires squabble and Sebastian tries to make deals to ensure his survival, a combined force of the army and religious vampire-hunters surround the place, intent on exterminating the undead – though not before Captain Bingham (Robert Portal, Simon Rumley’s frequent producer) has secured a sample of vampire blood he intends to sell to a cosmetics company who envision a rejuvenation product.

 

The scale of the affair becomes obvious early on when the first wave of troops attack – and the big battle takes place offscreen, with noise and fireflashes from inside the house, while we’re stuck on the hillside with the observers.  Though Flemyng has tapped none other than Jason Statham to do the fight choreography, there’s disappointingly little to the action – and more of the fun comes from the vividly-characterised vampires, who are both horrible and useless, scheming against each other even as the external threat looms.  Whenever things slow down, some new face pops up to be amusing – as when the hoods come off the farm couple whose house has been taken over and we meet prospective victims played by Dexter Fletcher and Ruth Jones, who turn out to be not that innocent (they have a fridge full of parts of hop-pickers).  It’s all fairly random and ramshackle, and doesn’t quite establish its quite interesting mythology all that well – but it has smart lines, a few clever plot developments and a general air of enthusiasm that distinguishes it from the crowd of low-rent Brit house-in-the-woods horror.

 

Of the bloodsuckers, Charlie Cox (of Daredevil), Freema Agyeman (of Doctor Who) and Vincent Regan (as ‘the Duke’) are a bit on the bland side, but Myles, Tony Curran (especially vile) and Annette Crosbie (stealing all her scenes as a sly little old lady whose friends tend to die off rather more frequently than is statistically probable) sink their fangs into the roles (even if the fangs are snarly Buffy faces rather than proper Hammer canines).  Mackenzie Crook, a vampire in the dud TV series Demons, is less well-served by a fanatic Van Helsing role, while Nick Moran (completing the Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels reunion) and ex-Young Sherlock Nicholas Rowe (who was also in Lock, Stock come to think of it) get a few funny bits as squaddies.  Scripted by Danny King, who wrote Fletcher’s Wild Bill – though it’s likely that Flemyng and Fletcher had hands in the story.

 

Here’s a trailer.

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  1. Pingback: FrightFest 2017 – Complete Review Round-Up | The Kim Newman Web Site - August 29, 2017

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