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John’s Horror Corner: Boys from County Hell (2020), this Irish horror-comedy is a stylish vampire movie that hocks “Piss Off” to Dracula.

November 12, 2021

MY CALL:  Providing a feisty Irish play on the vampire genre, this odd little film is one I’d readily recommend (even if only for a one-time viewing). While not in league with Grabbers (2012) or Shaun of the Dead (2004), this horror comedy delivers as much charm as it does bloody fun along with some dire death.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Boys from County Hell: For more Irish horror movies check out Leprechaun Origins (2014), Leprechaun 2 (1994), Leprechaun (1993), Rawhead Rex (1986), Isolation (2005), Outcast (2010), Grabbers (2012), Cherry Tree (2015), Holidays (2016; St. Patrick’s Day segment), The Hallow (2015) and Hole in the Ground (2019).

Contestably the oldest story on record about a blood drinking creature, our ne’er-do-well protagonists Eugene (Jack Rowan; Peaky Blinders), William (Fra Fee; Hawkeye) and SP (Michael Houg; Chapelwaite, Grabbers) find shenanigans in preaching about their local folklore’s vampire that predated Bram Stoker’s rip-off. The legendary blood drinker Abhartach (Robert Strange; Howl, Penny Dreadful) was told to rise every time he was killed, and his grave is marked by a pile of stones about to be leveled for new road construction in the Irish countryside.

When a freak farm accident kills William with his blood soaking into the ground by the old stone pile, Abhartach is awakened and death befalls the nearby farm.

Advertised as a horror comedy, the comedy is somewhat infrequent once the killing starts. But it certainly has its humorous moments. Much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead (2004), the monster attacks are dire and visceral, yet sometimes killing a monster comes with a laughably cheeky gory spin. The key word here is “sometimes.” Overall this film is more serious than Shaun, but every now and then it reminds you of its probable influence.

The Abhartach monster is a black-skinned, blood-hungry, emaciated ghoul that looks good and moves well on-screen. I honestly expected cheaper or less-revealing effects, so this was a lovely surprise. Likewise, the horror action is good, packing a lot of blood along with some shocking moments including broken bone protruding through the skin and a brutal “pulling” dismemberment. Yikes!

An interesting play on the vampire subgenre is Abhartach’s power to pull blood towards him (as if by “blood telekinesis” or… haemokinesis?), even at great distance and from a living body! It’s no Magneto smoke show, but it’s a very cool, well-executed concept that brings gravity to the creature’s menace.

This film is entertaining, rather fun, pretty good, really well-made, and very easy to watch. The acting, writing, and general filmmaking are all refreshingly capable considering I didn’t recognize any of the cast or director (Chris Baugh; Bad Day for the Cut). One mild warning I’d issue is that the Irish accents are thick, and some viewers may want the subtitles on for this one. But those accents are part of the charm for this odd little movie that I’d strongly recommend, even if only for a one-time viewing.

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