First, some background: Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula,” and the ostensible creator of our modern concept of the vampire, was Irish. Now for some retconning: Stoker’s villain was inspired by Abhartach, a native of the tiny Irish village of Six Mile Hill who delighted in drinking his neighbors’ blood in Chris Baugh’s plucky horror comedy “Boys from County Hell.” Abhartach was assassinated by a local and buried under a high cairn of rocks in a grassy plain, never to be seen again. Perhaps.
Eugene (Jack Rowan) and his best friend William live in such a country (Fra Fee). The Abhartach legend is a nice way to divert attention away from inattentive visitors, but these local lads can’t shake the feeling that there’s something to the tall tale. Baugh, best known for his Sundance feature “Bad Day for the Cut,” adapts his own 2013 short film for his second feature, a film that blends good humor, gruesome horror, and the texture of everyday life.
Though “Boys from County Hell” is unabashed in its love of vampiric mythology and reclaiming it for the Irish, Baugh is just as interested in creating a slice-of-life dramedy that can contain both realistic concerns (a modern highway bypass cutting through town) and the outsized concerns of vampiric lore (again, a vampire). The living characters and relationships compel Baugh and co-writer and regular collaborator Brendan Mullin just as much as the adventures of the local zombie bloodsucker.