Beginning life in 1993, the Leprachaun franchise was the launch pad for Jennifer Aniston’s movie career. Spawning six sequels, it was more of a comedy-horror than a straight up scare feature. Fast forward 21 years, and Lionsgate have rebooted the franchise, minus the comedy and, bizarrely, The Leprechaun.
Backpacking through the lush Irish countryside, two unsuspecting young couples discover a town’s chilling secret. Ben (Andrew Dunbar), Sophie (Stephanie Bennett), David (Brendan Fletcher) and Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh) quickly discover the idyllic land is not what it appears to be when the town’s residents offer the hikers an old cabin at the edge of the woods. Soon, the friends will find that one of Ireland’s most famous legends is a terrifying reality.
Anyone that lives in the UK or Ireland will quickly realise that this was filmed anywhere but Ireland; it’s simply a field in Canada. But its okay, because the few Irish people the Americans do meet are flatcap wearing, Guinness drinking men who still dress like its the early 20th Century. Already, our intelligence has been insulted. But wait, there’s more! (Or less, in the case of The Leprechaun.)
Produced by WWE Studios, one of their talents, Dylan Postl, was cast as the titular villain a few years back. Or, more than likely the case after seeing the film, this production came about because of his character. His name on TV is Hornswaggle, and he’s an ‘Irish’ midget who cheats, hoaxes and swindles his way to win, so it made sense for him to play the role really. The original had Warwick Davies as the riddle-spitting Lep and he is arguably the only reason why the franchise ever caught on. The same cannot be said for Postl and this modern incarnation of the creature. There’s not one clear shot of him in the whole film, and what we do see suggests it looks less like a Leprechaun and more like another movie monster, Pumpkinhead, albeit shrunken down. There’s no riddles, or any dialogue of any kind, only grunts and slobbery growls. More frustratingly, there’s absolutely no link to this being an ‘origin’ story, making the film an instant failure in fulfilling the fundamental promises given by its title.
The American teens are your most basic of victims, with not one interesting trait between them. Their demises could not come soon enough – and they don’t. It takes a while for the first teen to bite the dust, and yet the inexperience of reality TV show contenstant turned director Zach Lipovsky means its something we can’t enjoy. Employing the lightning quick cuts and a shaking camera technique, it’s almost impossible to see what’s actually going on, and this happens with the majority of deaths. The one death we do see is satisfyingly gory, but it just makes you wish that the camera lingered a little longer on the unfortunate souls who met their end with the Lep.
Leprechaun: Origins is nothing more than a cash grab attempt on WWE Studios part as this was their first picture that already had an established name attached. While it wasn’t exactly the most ground breaking of franchises, the Leprechaun series were fun, throwaway films that were self-aware of their silliness. Regardless of this being a reboot, the titular character should never be one that takes the ‘serious’ horror route.
It does succeed on one level though – if you paid to see this, it stole both your gold and time.