BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL movie poster | ©2021 Shudder

BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL movie poster | ©2021 Shudder

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Jack Rowan, Nigel O’Neill, Louisa Harland, Michael Hough, Fra Fee, Robert Nairne, Andrea Irvine, Morgan C. Jones, David Pearse, John Lynch
Writer: Chris Baugh, story by Chris Baugh & Brendan Mullin
Director: Chris Baugh
Distributor: Shudder
Release Date: April 22, 2021

BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL is a Northern Irish horror/comedy. It seeks to emulate AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (there’s even a dialogue reference, along with a whole sequence that’s fairly similar) or SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

We’re in the picturesque small town of Six Mile Hill. It’s nighttime. An older couple is watching television, when the woman begins to bleed from the nose and the man begins to bleed from the eyes. The front door opens and the woman screams.

A title card brings us back to two months earlier. The village pub is called The Stoker, as DRACULA author Bram Stoker once visited the place.

According to the locals, Stoker in fact got his inspiration for his novel from the Six Mile Hill legend of Abhartach, a vampire supposedly buried under a cairn of stones in a field owned by George Bogue (John Lynch). This is the biggest tourist attraction in town.

George’s son William (Fra Fee) is handsome and popular, romantically involved with barmaid Claire (Louisa Harland). However, George is restless, in contrast to his determinedly unemployed best friend Eugene (Jack Rowan). Eugene’s dad Francie (Nigel O’Neill) is a contractor who has just been hired to build a highway bypass, guess where.

Director/writer Chris Baugh, working from a story he crafted with Brendan Mullin, has a novel take on vampire lore. He may be the first to deal in this particular method of vampiric transmission, as well as creating blood-drinkers who are this hard to kill.

Baugh creates some eerie, weird moments, and has some truly funny dialogue, which may play even better in the U.S. than it does in BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL’s country of origin. This is due to the fact that certain obscenities are common to both places, but have different meanings.

On the other hand, some of the jokes try too hard. It’s tough to strike a balance between a humorously realistic reaction to terrifying insanity, and something so understated or oblivious that it pulls us out of the story. We can tell the tone BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL is trying to maintain, but it occasionally tips over.

The scenery is great, and the set design is simple yet potent. This is somewhat undercut by the film’s tendency to make night scenes too dark. We appreciate that a mood is being set, but we still want to see what’s happening.

The cast is strong, with Rowan especially potent as Eugene, who goes from snark to anguish. O’Neill likewise impressive as the tough Francie, and Harland is engaging as the ever-sensible Claire.

BOYS FROM COUNTY HELL has its ups and downs, but it has enough merits to recommend it to fans of the subgenre.

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