Much in the same way a trapeze artist must balance during their act or become quickly familiar with the ground, films have to balance tone if they are going to try multiple moods or risk falling flat. Of the possible genres you can mash together, adding comedy is difficult but making a comedy horror has to be handled with the utmost care. Delve into the comedy one too many times and it ends up not being scary, blend in too much horror and the tone becomes confused on what the mood of the film is, as becomes the case with Boys from County Hell.
Every small town is known for something, whether it be their food, their location, or their lore, but it is rarely their vampire as is the case with this Irish town. As the legend goes there lived an ancient vampire that was defeated by the locals and it was this story that inspired the original tale of Dracula. The locals of today think the story is all hogwash but it brings in the tourists so they don’t mind. That was until the stony grave was disturbed by construction, now some things are happening that they can’t explain, aside from the possibility the grave wasn’t empty after all.
Considering vampires have existed in film for a hundred years and have folklore that existed long before that, it seems impossible to add anything that we haven’t seen before. Boys from County Hell does the impossible and edits the vampire mythos and traits in a way that is unique, exciting, very interesting. In the same way that Return of the Living Dead flipped the concept of the zombie on its head, we see many unique qualities these vampires have, playing with many common traits and weaknesses from vampire lore. Needless to say, it is impressive and these vampires would be a nightmare to deal with if they were commonplace.
An unbalance tone though brings down even the most interesting movies, and the film fumbles the execution of the comedy and horror tone in a big way. Though the films are incredibly different Boys from County Hell feels like it is attempting to have a very similar tone to Shaun of the Dead. Mundane people caught in a supernatural situation that forces them to grow as people while hijinks ensue, but this film leans far too hard into the drama making the comedy feel out of place. The drama takes itself too seriously and a score makes every scene feel too tense, which is disappointing because some of the comedy was quite funny.
Any time a film creates something new for a sub-genre it is something worth praising and Boys from County Hell is no exception. It is rare that a film can add their interpretation to the zeitgeist and feel like they have a noticeable entry. With the vampires being interesting and unique, that is enough to carry the experience, but it is the tone that the film conveys that keeps the film from becoming a classic.
6 out of 10