As a massive horror fan, the announcement of Shudder brought me nothing but joy and excitement. A streaming site catered to those whole twisted films with serial killers, monsters and creatures was all I needed to know before signing up for my subscription. While there’s many underrated and under promoted gems on Shudder, I had come to find it a tad bit underwhelming. That is until Shudder exclusives started to pop up. While not all of them have been worthwhile hits, this last year in particular has been able to say the opposite. With films like last years’ zoom call from hell story Host to what may have been one of the best anthology films to date in The Mortuary Collection; Shudder has proven that they’ve still got a lot up their sleeve and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Which ultimately brings us to what I assume is going to be their next hit, Boys From County Hell.
Boys From County Hell follows Eugene (Jack Rowan), a trade worker who lives in a small town in Ireland and is comfortable with the idea of having small dreams and never leaving. After a tragic incident, Eugene, his father and their team of workers accidentally unleash an Irish vampire that was thought to be a myth and must survive the night. As if outrunning a vicious and hungry vampire isn’t enough, any victims blood is drawn from their bodies just from the vampire being close enough in distance. While the story isn’t the most original and never goes into too much depth when it comes to the legend itself, this somehow succeeds to provide a pretty unique vampire tale.
Writer and Director Chris Baugh’s script and cast of characters are the clear standouts here and are most of the reason as to why this film works. Throughout its duration, I couldn’t help but find similarities in tone to none other than Edgar Wright’s brilliant horror comedy Shaun of The Dead. It was funny in a charming way and didn’t completely rely on the shticks it lays out for us. While the comedy was definitely a hit for me, the horror elements all worked as well. The creature was scary enough and I always love a great monster crafted from mostly practical effects. The lore was fun and it put respect on its influences and vampire flicks/monsters that came before, acknowledging that we already understand how these creatures function and work which means never having to completely explain that to us.
As for the cast, they’re all great. Jack Rowan (Benjamin) and Nigel O’Neill (Game of Thrones) as the bickering father son duo was fun to watch and both charmed their ways through Baugh’s cheeky script. All supporting actors bring great chemistry to the table and provided great characters to root for to survive; come to think of it there were only maybe a couple people who I didn’t want to come out okay in the end. I also have to commend this film for not having an open ending. I find a lot of horror nowadays struggle to come up with satisfying endings to their stories either with hopes of a sequel or just to be playful with the audience. The ending we’ve got here is one that I all around enjoyed and left me content with how it all played out.
This film is best described as a mix of Shaun of the Dead and 30 Days of Night; and trust me I mean that in all the best ways. It’s a solid horror comedy that brings a new voice into the genre, one that I quite enjoyed. If you’re a fan of vampires, creature features or just a fun survival tale, then this is right up your alley. Boys From County Hell hits Shudder on April 22nd and I highly recommend it to horror fans who are in need of a good time.