Directed by: Chris Baugh
Premise: In a rural Irish town, a group of road construction workers disturb the tomb of a vampire. The reawakened creature wreaks havoc on the town.
What Works: The biggest asset of Boys from County Hell is the film’s characters and its setting. The movie has a specific sense of place. The story is set in a rural Irish town and the setting is photographed and staged to create the impression of a lived-in space. The characters of Boys from County Hell are well defined and their relationships have some depth. The film is led by Jack Rowan as Eugene, a young man who is stuck in a cycle, spending his nights drinking in the local bar and his days working for his father’s construction company. Eugene and his father have a tempestuous relationship and they are required to get past their hang ups in order to survive. These characters feel real and that lends credibility to the supernatural premise. The film is also quite funny. The humor is droll and the comedy pairs well with the scares. Boys from County Hell is also notable in the way it connects the vampire myth to the Irish folk legend of Abhartach. This brings a new angle to the vampire film and helps locate the story in its particular setting.
What Doesn’t: The filmmaker’s use of the Abhartach myth doesn’t have much in common with the actual legend. It uses the folk tale in a mostly superficial way. The vampire, as presented here, isn’t all that different from what we’ve seen in other movies. Boys from County Hell owes a lot to An American Werewolf in London. The first third of Boys from County Hell follows a similar series of events as the 1981 film. The two stories diverge from there but the films also share a blackly comic tone.
DVD extras: Commentary track, short film, featurette, image gallery, and storyboards.
Bottom Line: Boys from County Hell brings new life to familiar horror tropes by combining them with compelling characters, a sense of humor, and a palatable sense of place. Genre fans will likely recognize the references but this is the kind of horror film that ought to have wide appeal.
Episode: #874 (October 24, 2021)