Movie Review: Boys from County Hell (2020)

Directed by Chris Baugh
Starring Jack Rowan, Nigel O’Neill, Louisa Harland, Michael Hough, John Lynch, Fra Fee, Morgan C. Jones, Robert Nairne, Lalor Roddy

Creating a vampire movie these days is extremely difficult without treading on the footsteps of the countless titles already in this done-to-death sub-genre. When a filmmaker not only does that, but creates a very entertaining, humorous and still an effective picture, he, along with the cast and crew, need to be applauded. Because of that, I felt I needed to post a review, hoping to draw more people to it.

Taking place in a small village in Ireland, we quickly learn about the legend of Abhartach, who was apparently a vampire of sorts, and is the one that Bram Stoker really was influenced by when he created Dracula. There is a sort of large pile of rocks, a sort of burial mound that has been there for hundreds of years, that is where this creature remains, as well as something that draws tourist to this otherwise lonely town. When plans are made to put a road through the same field housing this famous burial ground, the locals are not too happy, taking the one thing away that keeps them afloat. But once the mound is knocked over, strange things start to happen. Could it be Abhartach returning?

Co-written and directed by Chris Baugh, which he based on his 2013 short film of the same name. Not only giving us a nice twist on the vampire sub-genre, but he also does something that a lot of horror films can’t seem to manage, and that is filling it with characters that you actually care about. Even with the tiniest amount of back story, we feel like we know these people and their troubles. This comes from not only the writing but the actors bringing these characters to life as well. Plus, it is so nice to see characters act like how most people would in real life, like screaming in terror as you run away!

Leading the cast is Jack Rowan, a young man who doesn’t really know what to do with this life. He helps his father do construction work (who also happens to be in charge of this new roads project, making him even less popular in town) but feels lost. When he finds out his best friend is leaving the country, he figures there has to be something better for him out there. But then bad things start to happen. Nigel O’Neill plays Rowan’s father with the two seeming always arguing with each other. O’Neill was in the original short film version and returns in the same role.

John Lynch, who I’ve enjoyed his work since Hardware (1999), plays the local mortician, who gives an incredible performance of a grieving father, but also can deliver the comedic elements just as strong. Lalor Roddy is another Irish actor that I’ve seen popping up in more than a few recent Irish horror films, such as Grabbers (2012) to the more recent The Devil’s Doorway and Don’t Leave Home (both 2018), but unfortunately, he doesn’t have too big of a role here, which is a shame.

I really enjoyed the way the film plays with tradition and mythology, so we never know what to expect, which makes the film even more interesting. There seems to be an influx of Irish horror as of late which seems to be pretty consistent on how good they are. This one is definitely helping that cause.

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