Starring: Jack Rowan, Louisa Harland, Nigel O’Neill, John Lynch
Director: Chris Baugh
Release Date: 6th August 2021 in UK and Irish cinemas
Surely you have all heard of Dracula, the renowned gothic horror novel by Dublin born author Bram Stoker. Famous around the world for his creation of a Vampire Lord, but where did this inspiration for the tale hail from? Well in the village of Six Mile Hill, a quiet countryside town somewhere in Northern Ireland. They believe the character was inspired by a local legend, known as the Abhartach. An evil creature known for draining people’s blood dry, whose grave lies in the middle of a field, marked by a mound of stones.
The truth of the legend is about to be tested, when tragedy strikes the small village. Against the residents wishes, a new bypass is to be built in the same field the gravesite is located. The first task is to destroy the Abhartachs gravesite – but are they willing to deal with the undead that rise against them?
‘The Boys from County Hell’ was such a surprising watch. Although at times it appeared quite cheesy, it was also very relatable in how the characters reacted to each of the horrific situations. Perhaps it’s because I share the same kinship as the characters, as we all live on the same land although we are from either ends of the border. I feel that Irish viewers would get the best kick out of this movie, as I can’t say how well it would be received by other nationalities. Would a British or American viewer get the same joke? Would they share the same humor as the characters? Do they know how culturally normal it is to go across fields home at night from the pub with a bag of cans in hand? Or even how ‘normal’ it was for fathers and sons to have a very bravado relationship. How many young people from nearly every village in Ireland once left their homes to travel abroad for work – from Australia to England, even the USA. This film certainly speaks to a generation and I’m not afraid to say that it is in fact my own.
So we begin with the trio of friends – Eugene, William and Claire. All of which are in their early twenties I would imagine, trying to get by in a small rural village. After a short fight on the way home between the two lads, a gruesome death happens to one of them. As the town mourns the loss of one of their young men, the family and friends are distraught. It isn’t long after that the construction work for the new bypass has to begin in the same field that the Abhartach’s grave is located. Aside from the three amigos, we are introduced to their wider family. From their parents, to the local drunkard, the Undertaker and the all important Barman! Above all we can never forget the very charismatic grizzly of a man – SP McCauley. Truly the best mate and drinking buddy an Irish man would ever need!
So the comedy certainly comes from the characters and their reactions, to the intense violent attacks that continue to put their lives in danger. The horror lies in the details, how blood just pours from peoples eyes, out of houses and onto the streets. Its nightmarish how it all occurs. Not to forget the ‘locals’ that become ‘infected’ turn into feral creatures that just attack our construction crew. If we suddenly discovered that creatures like the undead existed, this film would be deemed so realistic it would be classed as a documentary into the events that took place in Six Mile Hill.
This isn’t the first venduring for The Boys From County Hell, as it was originally a short film of the same name back in 2013. Director Chris Baugh and producer Brendan Mullin successfully crowdfunded a campaign for the 17minute short film that had a very similar story. Since then they have rewrote the script, got backing for a full length film and recast the majority of the roles, wth just Nigel O’Neill from the original short returning for the role of Eugene’s father.
This ‘Boys From County Hell’ film had a fantastic cast, including Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders, Noughts + Crosses), Louisa Harland (Derry Girls), Nigel O’Neill (The Clandestine), and John Lynch (The Banishing, Isolation). The film was also recently played at this year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival.
So not only did this film cover some comedic moments, some savage fight scenes, gore, missing limbs and Daddy issues. It was also good craic to watch. I know it’s cheesy at times, but sometimes that’s all you need in a film. ‘Boys From County Hell’ could very well be the Irish version of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ in my books!
Review by Vixen Ninetails
In the sleepy Irish town of ‘Six Mile Hill’, famously claimed by locals to have once been visited by the Irish author Bram Stoker himself, lives Eugene Moffat, a young man who mostly spends his days drinking pints with his friends or out of boredom, pranking tourists who come by to visit the gravesite of the ancient Irish vampire ‘Abharlach’, who is believed to be what inspred Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But due to a personal tragedy, Eugene is forced to work with his no nonsense father, as part of his father’s crew of road workers. All hell begins to break lose, when Eugene and the crew tears down a cairn, that is famously believed to be ‘Abharlach’s’ final resting place, which causes Eugene alongside his father and the rest of his father’s crew to soon realise, that they have now accidently awakened the ancient Irish vampire ‘Abharlach’. This suddenly becomes apparent, when they find one of their crewmates having been infected, so in order to survive the night, they must be forced to fight for their lives and for those living in their small Irish town.
‘’Boys from County Hell’’ (2021) is a horror comedy vampire film, that is set in Ireland, within the small Irish town of ‘’Six Mile Hill’. Easing the tension caused by the intense gore filled start to the film, we are shown the beautifully peaceful landscapes of Ireland. The film soon introduces our main protagonist Eugene Moffat (portrayed by English actor Jack Rowan from Peaky Blinders), a young man who mostly spends his time with his friends in ‘’The Stoker’’, a local pub named after the Irish author Bram Stoker, who was rumoured to have once visited their local town. Eugene alongside his best friend William decides to con a tourist couple, who entered the pub, by offering to give them a tour to see the gravesite of a local myth by the name of ‘Abharlach’, an ancient Irish vampire, who was according to Eugene to be what inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When tragedy strikes, Eugene is forced to work with his critically distant father, as part of his father’s crew of road workers. The film gives a mixture of horror, comedy and even drama elements, as it deals with serious topics such as coping with loss. The film starts to become action packed with some hilarious witty dialogue throughout, when Eugene and the crew tear down a cairn that is believed to be ‘Abharlach’ final resting place causing evil to break free. As one of their crewmates becomes infected, they with some hesitation at first on whether they are dealing with a vampire or a man high on drugs, soon will come to realise, that they must together fight off the evil and uncover how to end what they believe they accidently caused before it gets too late.
The film first introduces the main protagonist Eugene Moffat (Jack Rowan) as a somewhat of an unlikeable character at first, due to him and his friend William Bogue coning a tourist couple of their money, by offering to give them a tour to see the gravesite of the ancient Irish vampire ‘Abharlach’, which ended with them scaring the tourists for a laugh. Eugene is also shown at first to be quite hypocritical in his opinion, when he talks about his distaste for Bram Stoker’s Dracula without even having read it. The film soon makes you sympathise with Eugene’s character, making him more likable, especially as the movie goes on, we learn more about his life, such as a personal tragedy he had experienced and the distant relationship he has with his father, while also being blamed for things he had no control over and when he is forced to step up and fight, he becomes a leader and therefore someone to root for. The character of Eugene’s father, Francie Moffat (Nigel O’ Neill) comes across as a man who doesn’t share his feelings, which has caused a strain in his relationship with his son, as he finds it difficult to show his softer side, as he can’t even hug his own son, so instead he criticises his son’s every move. The title of this film may also fool you, as the character of Claire McCann (portrayed by Irish actress Louisa Harland from Derry Girls) steals the show with her quick wit, as she is able to think on her feet and is a great ally to the rest of the crew. The comedic relieve is mostly delivered by the character of SP McCauley (Michael Hough), as through witty dialogue and his hilarious responses to what is going on around him, his character will give the audience a lot of chuckles in between the more serious moments.
I truly enjoyed this film, from its strangely intense gore filled opening to its hilarious witty Irish humour, that is delivered by a wonderful cast, whose relationships within the film feel real and aren’t forced, making the film feel more realistic in tone. I loved that the film made the development of the characters have a realistic progression, especially with the relationship between Eugene and his father, as the movie doesn’t have the usual movie trope of having a relationship fully change overnight, so this choice made the film have a sense of realism. The practical makeup affects looked frightening on both those who were infected and the ancient Irish vampire ‘Abharlach’. The film also showed quite well how strong those affected and ‘Abharlach’ himself were, from their quick attacks to hearing a loud thump when ‘Abharlach’ hits the ground, making him seem so strong, that it will be more of a challenge to defeat him. The film beautifully sets up its Irish tone, through showing the idyllic landscape of Ireland and through its wonderful mostly Irish soundtrack that includes songs such as ‘Joyce County Celi Band’, performed by the Irish rock band the Saw Doctors. While not only having Irish songs, the film surprisingly thrown in ‘’Dream Warriors written by Dokken, which is mainly known for being associated with Nightmare on Elm Street 3. The film was ultimately entertaining with a few twists and witty dialogue throughout, that was hilarious to watch, but at times I did feel that the more serious moments were pulled back with some of its witty dialogue, taking over those scenes. I was very impressed with the design of ‘Abharlach’, but with that I wanted to see more of him, which is both a negative aspect, while also being a positive aspect, as the film makes you stay in the moment, that you just don’t want it to end too quickly.
I highly recommend watching ‘Boys from County Hell’ (2021), as I guarantee you will be kept engaged to the screen from start to finish, from its bloody intense gory action with witty comedic dialogue written throughout, that will ease the tension, that the drama aspect provides. This film is differently a unique take on the vampire genre, that will suck you back in, as this film shows that the vampire genre is not dead, as it can be taken surprisingly in new directions.
‘Boys from County Hell’ is ‘’a surprisingly unique gore filled witty twist on the vampire genre’’, that is directed by Chris Baugh, who directed 2017’s Northern Irish Crime Thriller ‘Bad day for the cut’.
Special thanks to Vertigo Releasing, who has announced that ‘Boys from County Hell’ will be getting a theatrical release on the 6th of August 2021 in UK and Irish Cinemas.