At A Glance
A small group of Irish townsfolk go head to head with the ancient vampire Abhartach in this very funny comedy, horror from the filmmakers that brought you Bad Day for the Cut.
Directed by Chris Baugh
Written by Chris Baugh, Brendan Mullin
Distributed by Vertigo Releasing
In UK cinemas 6th August
2021, 88 minutes, Cert 15
Jack Rowan as Eugene Moffat
Louisa Harland as Claire McCann
Nigel O'Neill as Francie Moffat
Michael Houghas SP McCauley
John Lynch as George Bogue
Robert Nairne as Abhartach
You’ve heard of Dracula, now meet Abhartach an ancient vampire who’s been unceremoniously unearthed from his final resting place. As a group of townsfolk lead by Eugene and his father Francie take on the task, the night will not pass without a fight as Abhartach is out for blood! If like me you love the Irish accent and sense of humour then you will be highly entertained by the Boys From County Hell.
Loving to get my teeth into a good interview there were lots more laughs to be had with Jack Rowan and Louisa Harland as they share their experience of working on the film and tell us a little more about their characters Eugene and Claire.
For me as a journalist watching it I can see why you would want to make this film, but for you as actors where the story is everything, what was it that attracted you?
Jack: For me it was; my Dad’s Irish and huge part of my life is very much split between England and Ireland. So getting the opportunity, regardless of story, I was really glad to have a chance to audition for a film that I was able to do the Irish accent, you know. And then it just so happened that it was a really enjoyable story and Chris (Baugh) and all that were just great people and thankfully they gave it to me. So yeah the first initial attractions was get in, I wanna audition for, because I hadn’t really had the opportunity to audition for many parts with like, Irish accents, so yeah.
Well you’ve really pulled it off, it’s very convincing to a layman I’m not Irishman or Irish woman but….
Louisa: I can tell you, it’s very convincing.
Were you giving him some lessons Louisa?
Louisa: No, no he was giving me lessons I think. Yeah, it’s a very, very convincing accent isn’t it.
And Louisa what was it about the story that attracted you?
Louisa: I had heard great things about Chris and Brendan (Mullin) and I knew that this was a script that they’d had for a good few years and meant a lot to them. So I knew kinda going in it was gonna be a great story, and layered and it was. And I was very lucky enough to audition and even luckier to be offered the role.
There’s so many great things about the film, but one of them is that it’s a horror film, based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and that mythology and you’ve got this kind of creature feature as well. Was that fun? Because I’m taking it as that was real and you’re not acting against any kind of tennis ball or anything? Which is brilliant for you guys to react against.
Jack: Well he was Robert (Nairne). He was in make-up for I dunno, like seven hours, yeah ridiculous. And his whole body was a prosthetic, so even like his feet and stuff.
Louisa: He was incredible.
Jack: So he was really incredible. And what a job from the make-up and makeup team and stuff to pull that off. Yeah he looked gruesome, but also very sweet at the same time, like outside of the character and outside of actually being…
Louisa: He was a really nice guy.
Jack: I just wanted to hug him and stuff.
Is it good for you guys as well because you are put in some scenarios as well because you really have to react? I mean I know acting is reacting but the extreme circumstances that your characters face; was it just a great opportunity to have some fun with that as well?
Louisa: Yeah definitely and you know the guys really wanted everything to be really rooted in truth, because obviously crazy stuff goes on you know. So they really wanted everything to be rooted in truth, so we really tried to do that. But we tried to have as real as reactions as possible, confusion, as much as kind of shocked, kind of stuntedness as opposed to just like screaming straight away. So yeah, but it was very easy and in the location and with Robert in those incredible prosthetics and all the rest.
And there’s a lot of humour throughout the film, but it’s not slapstick comedy, just again reactionary comedy, actors reacting against each other. It’s so clever the dialogue and the way that you bounce off one another and I wondered whether the beauty of comedy is that it’s in the moment and it’s natural, so did you not over rehearse those scenes so you could keep the comedy as naturalistic as possible?
Jack: Yeah the one thing from day one that was always clear was they knew exactly what the project was and what they wanted it to be. So the humour as you say wasn’t slapstick it came from a very real place and a natural place, and a lot of the humour as Louisa would say, it is very Irish. And also Nigel (O'Neill) who played Francie my dad, and Michael Hough they’re just funny people. So when it came to them they were making me laugh in serious moments, do you know what I am saying (laughs).
Louisa: We actually struggled a lot with laughing getting through days, you know with Nigel. Yeah Nigel is probably one of the funniest people I have ever met and some of the times the moments are serious, it’s not all jokes.
Jack: There was one time when the laughter just got us, you know them times where we couldn’t stop laughing and it was just ironic that that was the day that Chris, his daughter was on set watching her old man like and he’s got all these actors losing it, it was funny like. It’s typical because it was a professional set and there’s times where we could laugh and times when we knew when to be serious, but that was, that was tough. That was with John Lynch and that.
It sounds like there was great camaraderie on set?
Louisa: Big time.
Jack: Yes to that question. We had a great camaraderie, we were great team. We had as much fun on screen as we did off, you know.
And with regards to your characters, Louisa I saw Claire as being very resourceful and quite pragmatic?
Louisa: Yeah she’s keeps her head on her shoulders, she keeps relatively calm throughout the whole thing, she’s obviously a very intelligent, fearless young woman. Yeah just a great role, a great role to play. And really well written, really true, you know.
The characters are very well written. And Jack there is a whole great arc with the relationship with your father as well?
Jack: Yeah. Definitely. And Nigel who plays my dad, it’s crazy how in real life he lives about five minutes from my grandparents, which is literally the tiniest town. To the point even talking to Irish people I don’t even say the name of that town because they don’t know it. And he lived his whole life five minutes away. I think me and Nigel are doing it proud, there should be statues of us up there (laughs).
Louisa: I agree.
Jack: And Nigel he does have similarities to my own Dad, just the humour and the hard working soul like, you know proper salt of the earth type people. They don’t need to say I love you but they show it. And certainly with Francie and Eugene fighting a vampire is 20 odd years of I love yous in that moment (laughs).
Louisa: I think that when it comes down to it the film really is about a father and son relationship and when it boils down to it, it’s what carries it.
It’s definitely the emotional arc of the story isn’t it watching your relationship evolve, it’s kind of fractured at the beginning and then by the end and with this terrible thing that happens it brings you closer together?
Jack: It takes a bloody ancient vampire to bring these two, and even amongst the journey they still bicker, they still fight, they still….
Louisa: A dad’s love.
Jack: Yeah exactly, that’s love, there’s no hate, there’s just, it’s just like that’s their thing, that’s their, I don’t know how to say it; rapport.
Yeah that’s their dynamic. And your character grows as well Jack, he starts off by being a bit, a bit of a… dare I say loser?
Louisa: A bit of a loser Jack did you hear that? (Laughs)
You did it very well (laughs)
Jack: (laughs) Yeah he finds his true calling at the end of the film. There’s a moment you know, he has his heroic rise and certainly amongst the town of Six Mile Hill he’ll always be known as a little bit of a legend. Actually I feel like not much of Six Mile Hill know about the stuff we do, because what the characters do is actually very private, they take on this vampire on their own so actually he’s still that loser, but in his heart he knows he’s not. He’s not a waste of space because if Abhartach comes back.
He is definitely the hero of the piece for sure (laughs)
Louisa: I would challenge, I would challenge that.
Would you say Claire is?
Louisa: Yes I think absolutely it goes without saying, without Claire, Eugene would be nothing.
Jack: John Lynch is the true hero.
Louisa: John Lynch is definitely the hero, yeah.
He’s a powerful, powerful actor isn’t he? He’s magnetic and quite scary in some of the scenes.
Jack: He is unbelievably funny. Like his humour I can’t put my finger on it, he doesn’t have to do much, it’s just a look, it’s his fault that day that we all fell into laughter, when we all lost it. It was his fault.
The other thing that the film captures is this wonderful sense of Irish community, is that something that you saw in the film?
Louisa: Yeah absolutely they did really did that so well and that’s very true and that’s what gets everybody through in the end, without that sense of community how far would they have got with this town attack.
Jack: Yeah and there’s characters in the film that I could, in my own life of going to Ireland that I can sort of know exactly, who they are and what type of person they are especially Francie. I just know people exactly like him. And just that sort of, even my own dad for example when he was young he left Ireland, he felt that he needed to move out, he needed to branch out and maybe it’s a case in some of these small towns. Even at the beginning of the movie Eugene is really upset, his friend is branching out, his friend is moving away to Australia. And he’s like damn you’re leaving me? It kind of puts his whole life into perspective a little bit more, ‘cause that small town mentality is not for everyone. Some people don’t want to stay there forever, they want to move on.
Because it’s quite an intimate cast, there’s not many of you how does that build that connection on screen? You all look like you gel very well together?
Louisa: We absolutely did.
Jack: A lot of the movie as well is a lot of group sequences, so a lot of the filming we were together, it wasn’t like….
Jack: We wouldn’t have a week of filming without kinda seeing everyone. And we all just got on. You hear it many times in acting projects that cast get on, but we really did from the get go.
Louisa: We really did, we really did.
You all get a bit messy, so it all sounds like fun when you are reading it on the page but when you are having to sit and get all bloodied up, does it all take its toll a little bit? Because I was thinking it must be quite tricky with continuity?
Louisa: Yeah, the continuity, Jesus the continuity (laughs) is a nightmare. But no it was only tricky for the hotel sheets, because we would come back to the hotel bar still covered in blood. I was so tired that sometimes you wouldn’t take the blood off your face and neck, and you would arrive back at the hotel bar and ask for a pint of Stella, so I felt more sorry for them. But it was all go all the time so that was just part of it. Harder for the make-up team really, the continuity was top notch.
Jack: Yeah. We had different outfit that were sort of the same outfit, but just different levels of blood.
Jack: But you know most of the film we had a splatter of blood on the face but as Louisa would say, there were times that you would genuinely forget that it’s there (laughs) and we’d roll back to the hotel. “Yeah you all right?” at like 5 O’clock in the morning.
Louisa: Literally covered in blood like (laughs).
What have you taken away with you from being a part of the film? Have you got a lasting memory?
Louisa: I think Chris and Brendan introduced me to loads of really cool horrors and films that inspired the film, so I actually have a new found love for horror films and old school films so I would definitely take that away with me and a great bunch of mates.
Jack: When I look back so far in my career it’s up there with the most fun I’ve had doing a film. Also like connecting to my own sort of family as well. Every time I had gone to Ireland I had spent like a long weekend or a week or something. But I was over there for ages, you know and then at the end of the job I stayed in Ireland for another few weeks just having fun with the family, so it was a nice way to reconnect to that second homeland you know.