Boys from County Hell: …Hath No Fury, by Chase Beck
The vampire myth predates Bram Stoker’s legendary story. The mythology of reanimated, blood-drinking corpses is not only millenia-old, but also cross-cultural, possessing roots throughout the world. In weaving the tale found in his Dracula novel, Irishman Stoker combined some of these legends and folktales with the regional history of the then-exotic locales of Eastern Europe to create the truly terrifying and iconic figure of Count Dracula. But, as early as the 1970’s it has been alleged that Stoker’s true inspiration came from the old Irish legend of Abhartach. Writer/Director Chris Baugh drew upon this information in crafting Boys From County Hell.
Jack Rowan and Fre Fee play Eugene Moffat and William Bogue, two friends and drinking buddies. William confesses that he is planning to leave the dying town while Eugene knows that, with his lack of university education, the best he can hope for is the occasional construction job his father can throw him. Their most recent job, though a lucrative bypass project, is certain to divide the town and make Eugene and his father pariahs when they are required to destroy an ancient cairn, the fabled resting place of the local legend and blood-sucking fiend Abhartach. Of course, the way these stories go, the townspeople’s opinion becomes the least of their worries once the cairn is disturbed
Boys From County Hell is only the second feature film from Baugh. His first film, Bad Day For The Cut is a 2017 revenge-thriller. Between that film and now, Baugh has involved himself in directing a few episodes of television and, of course, developing Boys From County Hell. County Hell tells quite a different story from Bad Day but Bad Day might be the more interesting of the two films.
The comparison of the two films is apt because they have similarities beyond Baugh’s involvement. Both take place in Ireland and explore unexpected departures from the quiet lives of your average Irish citizens. But, while Bad Day is a descent into the underworld of organized crime, County Hell promises to be a window into the terror and gore of supernatural horror
Unfortunately, it is a promise unfulfilled as County Hell seems as if it cannot decide if it wants to be comedic or legitimately scary. It lacks genuine humor, even as it fails to provide any actual scares. Baugh takes an interesting setting and an engaging premise and squanders both with poor story and flimsy execution. The film is well-acted and I found myself drawn to the main characters. Nigel O’Neill, Louisa Harland, Michael Hough and John Lynch round out a great cast. I just wish the film had spent less time trying to make me root for the humans and more time actually being a horror movie. I also feel that, if Baugh was not interested in providing real scares, he could have at least delivered on some genuine laughs. I was left wondering if the film was mismarketed as a horror comedy. Perhaps that was never the director’s intention.
If I had a major complaint it would be the generic look of Abhartach and how easily it is dispatched. At one time the cadaverously thin, large-fanged brute might have been interesting but in this day it seems all too typical of this type of movie. On top of that, Abhartach’s death, after the untimely demise of so many characters, seems unfulfilling and left me disappointed. At 90 minutes, Boys From County Hell is a decent enough diversion. It’s just too bad that is all it amounts to in the end.