In a world of cinema running rampant with new variations on stories of vampires, Dracula, and the vicious undead, Boys from County Hell is a bloody, fun, and refreshing take on the genre.
Written and directed by Chris Baugh, Boys from County Hell takes place in a sleepy, picturesque Irish backwater town called Six Mile Hill, the resting place of the legendary Irish vampire Abhartach. Local legend claims that Bram Stoker once spent a night in the local pub, and the town’s blood-drinking creature would then be what would go on to inspire the author to create Dracula. Well, that’s what the townsfolk like to believe, anyway. However, after tragedy strikes, a series of events begins to unfold, proving that the innocuous-looking pile of rocks that constitutes Abhartach’s gravesite may be far more insidious than they could have ever imagined.
Equal parts gruesome and entertaining, Boys from County Hell knows not to take itself too seriously. The basis of the film is compelling enough, placing a fun, riveting, and unique twist on vampires in pop culture and Irish folklore. But paired with the main cast, which includes Jack Rowan, Nigel O’Neill, Louisa Harland, Michael Hough, Fra Fee, Robert Nairne, Andrea Irvine, and John Lynch, the story is then given the ability to take off. Between Eugene (Rowan) and his father Francie’s (O’Neill) incessant bickering and the snappy, playful barbs traded between the rest of the characters, the timing and delivery of the film’s witty, frank dialogue consistently hits the mark.
As the narrative ricochets across the juncture of somber moments that give way to downright outrageous events, the cast is quick to wipe their tears and raise their weapons, dotted with comically colorful language that clearly acknowledges the absurdity of what’s happening around them. Baffled as to how in the world they’re going to dig their way of out this fetid, rotting grave that the entire town is on the brink of slipping into, Eugene, his father, and his friends are undoubtedly less-than-qualified to be the vampire-slaying saviors of their cozy little town. And that’s the point. They bounce erratically between choking down their fear to wield their weapons bravely and running in terror, cursing and screaming over the terrifying reality of what they’re facing. Boys from County Hell is a thrilling, gross, and hilarious ride that doesn’t skip a beat.
Even if you think you’ve heard a story like this before — group of people enjoys poking fun at a silly local legend until they realize it’s true and then all hell breaks loose — Boys from County Hell makes sure to subvert those assumptions with shocking moments and surprise twists. And at the heart of it all is a deeper message, one that explores the tentative mending of an abrasive, frayed relationship between a father and his son and the repercussions of thinking our problems will disappear when they’re buried, resting dormant amongst the dirt with the worms … but not gone quite yet.
Boys from County Hell will be available to stream exclusively on Shudder this Thursday, April 22 in the U.S. and Canada.