Boys From County Hell Movie Review

Written by Shane D. Keene

Premiered on Shudder

boys from county hell poster large

Directed by Chris Baugh
Written by Chris Baugh and Brendan Mullin
2020, 88 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Shudder on April 22nd, 2021

Jack Rowan as Eugene Moffat
Nigel O'Neill as Francie Moffat
Louisa Harland as Claire McCann
Michael Hough as SP McCauley

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Well, Boys From County Hell is—unexpected. Having some inkling of the premise going in, I had low expectations. I thought it might be comedic to some degree and otherwise mostly another meaningless gorefest. I was right, it is a gorefest, but all my other expectations were shattered. This one surprised me by turning out to be one of the better modern vampire films I’ve seen in a month of forevers.

Dracula author, Bram Stoker, was Irish. Director Chris Baugh—best known for Bad Day for the Cutthought it might be fun to uproot that story, move it to nowhere Ireland, and make it based on a guy who used to drink his neighbors’ blood. That is until they offed him and buried him under an ominous stone cairn that is used to excellent effect later in the narrative. And he was not wrong, it is a ton of fun that opens with the characters' eyes bleeding, and then gets weird from there. In a nutshell, a bumbling crew of road workers (featuring Nigel O’neil and Jack Rowan) in the Irish country village of Six Mile try to prank a couple of Canadian tourists, unwittingly unleashing a terror in the process. Think Dracula with a brogue accent and you’re on the path, but not in the ballpark yet.

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Baugh took delightful liberties with the trope, breaking rules that have long awaited breakage, and adding a flare of interest that had my attention from jump. It begins with a very traditional, same-old-story approach, mood, and atmosphere but that doesn’t last and it isn’t long before shit hits the fan, mayhem takes the show, and things go to hell. And it is divinely gruesome. The cinematography, practical effects, and the story are the strengths here. The acting is passing decent, but shored up by a director who knows how to guide their cast and stage a fantastic setting. Thus, I find myself in a predicament. I always try to find the negative aspects of a film and lay them out, sometimes have a little fun with them. But Boys From County Hell nearly stumped me, except for a few tiny things. The aforementioned acting, which isn’t bad, but ain’t stellar. The other one is the minor comedic attempts. They are ineffective for a simple reason: they just aren't funny and should have been dispensed with. The actors aren't astute enough to pull it off, not for lack of trying too hard, and the jokes fall as flat as wasted pennies in a wishing well.

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But those minor issues aren’t enough to detract from the enjoyment of the work. The story is too damn strong and engaging to be taken down much of a notch by such minor flaws. The fun, the sheer entertainment of the thing, resists being overshadowed in the long run. Director Chris Baugh won my shriveled black heart with Bad Day for the Cut, and with Boys From County Hell, he’s established himself as one of my favorite writer/directors of Irish horror and crime cinema. Watch this movie and keep an eye on this director.

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Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Shane D. Keene
Staff Reviewer
Shane Douglas Keene is a reviewer, columnist, and poet living in Portland, Oregon. He spends his spare time drinking scotch and/or beer, playing guitar, and thinking of ways to scare small children and puppies. He pays meticulous attention to beard maintenance, mostly because it freaks people out, and he writes about dark fiction and poetry in various places, including his blog at Shotgun Logic.
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