“We meet only once every fifty years,” says the Duke (Vincent Regan) to Peter (Tony Curran) as a small group of people of different ages, genders and ethnicities (played by Charlie Cox, Freema Agyeman, Annette Crosby, Lukas Leong and Jordan Long) gathers around the table in a farmhouse at night to discuss boundaries, quotas and jurisdictions. They are carving up the UK between them, as they always have done, while also negotiating how much they need to cooperate with the ‘European Council’. “These are difficult times, for all of us. Our glory days are long gone.”
Vampires are, by their very nature, immortal, but each and every one of their acts occurs in a specific era and place, making them a perfect barometer for changing times. Here, as this undead coven convenes in a single location, they may not be visible in the mirror, but they still reflect the issues of their times (technological advances, migration, ageing population, leaving the EU), and are anxious to keep up. Meanwhile, outside, well-armed, very spooked squaddies observe the cottage from a distance, accompanied by a nervous representative of the Vatican (Mackenzie Crook) – and young Essex ‘gypsy’ chancer Sebastian (Billy Cook) is picked up at the local station by his date, the vampish Vanessa (Eve Myles), who brings him to the farmhouse with a proposition for which, one way or another, he will inevitably be ‘game’.
Written by Danny King (Wild Bill), Eat Locals is the directorial debut of prolific British actor Jason Flemyng. Here he combines the tropes of vampire films (even Chinese ones) with the Little England satire of The League Of Gentlemen‘s Royston Vasey to show the accidental centrality, over a single night, of small-town British parochialism to a global economic scene where religious and national interests are now trumped by corporate ones. Eat Locals presents Britain as a place with a long, long history of small-minded territorialism, bestial exploitation and dog-eat-dog predation – all of which sweetens the detail that the film’s current events take place almost entirely within the shadows of a farmhouse owned by a couple (Dexter Fletcher, Ruth Jones) bearing and sharing the surname Thatcher. In a sense, the Thatcher legacy belongs to us all in this land of small farmers – and as the film’s familiar genre beats are used to take the pulse of the nation, Flemyng has made the first genre film to touch on Brexit. Tellingly, the response that Sebastian receives to his resonant question, “Where’re we going then?”, is an emphatic, “Anywhere but here.”