Out of Ireland comes an unexpected new chapter in vampire lore. You might know Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, the townsfolk of a quaint Irish village say its Transylvania tale was grave-robbed from local legend. Nowadays, this spooky story of a blood-sucking fiend is mostly employed to taunt gullible tourists. However, when a controversial roadway construction knocks down a strange landmark, the streets of this town run red with blood.
Written and directed by Chris Baugh, Boys From County Hell offers freshly sinister spins on the vampire mythology. First and foremost, this immortal foe need not bite you to drink away your life. A truly shocking opening sequence illustrates his powers, showing an elderly couple’s quiet evening in being gruesomely interrupted. One moment, they’re placidly watching TV from matching armchairs. The next, blood spills inexplicably from their ears, eyes, and mouths before hell itself barrels through their front door. From there, Baugh spins the story of a batch of townies, who must overcome their personal squabbles to beat back the undead terror.
Jack Rowan stars as a young man who dreams of traveling the world like his backpacking pals, which includes Derry Girls’ Louisa Harland. However, his hardnosed dad (Nigel O’Neill) has expectations closer to home, keeping the boy in the blue-collar family business. Finding a monster in their midst does little to quell the battles between father and son, nor the bitterness that can brew between jealous friends. Baugh manages to balance these dramas with splashy scares and a biting sense of humor that will have you cackling in between shudders.
Those who loved An American Werewolf in London will likely revel in the balance Baugh offers. There’s an irreverent humor, owned by the youth battling back against parental expectations and the undead. Yet this isn’t a horror-comedy as much as a character-driven adventure about misfits, monsters, and mayhem. It’s less goofy and more grounded. The horror is built from unique mythos, an appetite for gore, and a spooky atmosphere, coated in slippery nightfall. Then pathos is plucked from the ties that bind and sometimes strangle. Ultimately, with a cast that’s down for cracking good fun and a bloody wild ride, this vampire tale is alive with surprises, silly and scary.
Originally reviewed out of Nightstream, Boys of County Hell is now on Shudder.
Header Image Source: Nightstream