William and Eugene are two Irish lads in their mid-twenties, feeling aimless, and spending their time drinking pints, playing ball, and ripping off tourists.
Time is beginning to catch up with them and William is looking at options overseas. Eugene is an out of work builder, but has the opportunity to work on bypass for their town (wouldn’t that be nice? ). The controversial bypass would cut through a field that has an ancient cairn in it which is apparently the burial spot for the vampire that inspired Bram Stoker. When the cairn is disturbed and the vampire, Abhartach, is awakened, the two lads, and indeed the whole town, are in trouble.
I had a lot of fun with this. Right from the opening scene, which is a brilliant homage to one of my favourite movies, An American Werewolf in London, I knew I was in good hands. It is a proper bloody and gory horror, but with lots of laughs and a distinctly Irish sense of humour, so much so I wonder will people overseas get half of the jokes.
Boys From County Hell continues the great run the Irish film industry has going with horror movies. From grim and chilling Hole in the Ground in 2019 to the hilariously bloody Extra Ordinary last year, we are really seeing some inventive horror movies coming from our island.
I do feel the film has been done a disservice by being released in the middle of August rather than October. It would have been a fun trip to the cinema with friends in the middle of halloween season. I always maintain that the ideal film to see in a packed cinema is a bloody horror or big comedy.
Derry Girls’ Louisa Harland steals the show, and is thankfully given a fair shake here, and gets to have fun along with the boys, rather than being relegated to a dead body or ‘final girl’. She also gets to deliver one of my favourite lines of the year so far, when Eugene produces a skull he found in a field from his car and she calls him "Hamlet in a transit”.
There has been some critique that the film could either be more of a comedy or more of a horror, but I found the two tones well balanced. Yes, some of the punch lines do not quite land, and some of the jump scares are telegraphed, but the more serious tone of the last 20 minutes was well earned and I love, love, loved the bloody opening two minutes featuring an elderly couple. It really made me squirm like a good horror should.