It can be difficult to find an original take on traditional monsters in horror movies. There is a formula for vampire films. When dealing with Dracula, an ancient vampire is awakened and instantly feels the need to feed on blood and reunite with a long lost love.
Boys from County Hell is not a Dracula movie, but flirts with the idea of it. Directed by Chris Bough and written by Bough and Brendan Mullin, The Boys from County Hell plays with a number of conventions in this comedy horror. Blending folklore and wit and humor with horror, Boys from County Hell delivers a story that is both unique in its lore and charming in its characters.
Set in a small town in Ireland, tourists stop by for vampire folklore. The town is said to be the burial site of Abhartach, a vampire said to be the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Eugene and William spend the majority of their day bumming free drinks off Claire, a bartender at the local pub The Stoker. After they are cut off for the day, they spend the remainder tricking tourists into paying them for a tour. As it happens, the story of Abhartach is very real and that is when the bloodshed begins.
The film pays homage to the classics, while putting a contemporary spin on the story. The vampire’s look is very reminiscent of Nosferatu’s design, but there is something very modern about its height and gangly limbs. The manner in which Abhartach draws his power is also very creative while holding steady to tradition. While the established lore is innovative, there are many familiar themes touched on in the film. There are relationship between fathers and sons, and relationships between friends who must go their own separate ways, and ultimately grow up.
The film develops excellent chemistry between Eugene and his father Francie, played by Jack Rowan and Nigel O’Neill. There is also a parallel story between William and his father George, played by Fra Fee and John Lynch. The turbulent and loving connection between father and son is well told and reveals the dimensions of affection between them. However, the bond between Eugene and William could use more development to illustrate the depth of their friendship.
Overall the film is a lot of fun. Filled with blood and gore, and the scenic Irish countryside, Boys from County Hell is incredibly enjoyable and is sure to be a film you will want to revisit.
Boys from County Hell premieres April 22 on Shudder.
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