Boys From County Hell (2020), an Irish horror-comedy from the mind of Chris Baugh, is a rollicking good time to toast to… whether your drink of choice is beer or blood. Eugene Moffat (Jack Rowan) passes most of his days in middle-of-nowhere Ireland drinking pints with his pals and giving tours around the grave site of Abhartach, an Irish vampire of legend. He works for his father Francie (Nigel O’Neill) on a construction crew in the desolate countryside. It’s a dead-end job in a dead-end town… that becomes filled with the undead.
The characters discuss Dracula, the most famous vampire of all who came from the mind of an Irish writer, and toss back beers at a bar called The Stoker. But when Francie’s construction crew accidentally desicrates the grave site, animal carcasses appear and men go missing, soon it becomes pretty apparent that what they have on their hands is a bunch of bloodthirsty vampires.
All Eugene wants is to get out of his horrible Irish town, but he becomes a reluctant hero forced to help stave off the ferocious creatures and save the place from going totally to hell. With a gang rounded out by the likes of Claire McCann (Louisa Harland), SP McCauley (Michael Hough), and George and William Bogue (John Lynch and Fra Fee), they can barely stop bantering and bickering long enough to figure out how to quash the vampires, and every interaction is laden with biting humor — in all senses of the word.
There is plenty of blood and quirky local folklore, which are given some depth through the troubled father-son relationship between Eugene and Francie that forms the emotional core of the story. Meanwhile, there is eye-catching production design and some breathtaking shots of the Irish countryside that make it hard to believe Eugene is so desperate to leave it behind. At times the pacing can feel slightly slow as we place greater focus to Eugene’s familial pressures and friendships, giving us a slice of small-town life and some thematic heft. But the gore, once we get to it, is certainly gratuitous, with over-the-top spectacles of blue collar workers battling fanged beasts, and the B-movie campiness is a thing of beauty.
Boys From County Hell gets gory when it shows vampires in all their glory, but never loses a sense of fun. This tale of aimless youth finding purpose in slaying the undead will leave you thirsty for more of its black comedy, monster mayhem, and gruff Irish fathers. Grab a pint, and get ready to fight.