This is gonna be short and mean, like a leprechaun. To be frankly honest I almost didn’t try to write a review of this one, because I didn’t think I had much to say. But I decided it was my moral obligation to warn everybody. The only thing necessary for LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS to triumph is for men who have already seen LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS to do nothing.
Let’s be realistic. This is the LEPRECHAUN series. You and I, we are not devastated or surprised that the new LEPRECHAUN movie is not good. We weren’t expecting it to be, we weren’t even wanting it to be. But one thing we did expect, in my opinion, was it to be a movie that had a leprechaun in it. When you really think about it, that is one of the number one things tying all the previous movies together. “Has a leprechaun in it” has always been one of the steadfast rules of the franchise. Until now.
I have been a supporter of the prestigious WWE Films since day 1, and day 1 was another dumb horror movie, SEE NO EVIL. I don’t think that movie got very many good reviews. It’s not scary or anything and you hate the most of the good guy characters and there is plenty to complain about, but I kind of loved its lurid tastelessness and ridiculous premise of a giant mentally handicapped dude (played by a wrestler) who collects eyeballs and was raised to be so sexually repressed that he decided to create a complex series of pulleys and bells that will warn him if the matresses in his abandoned hotel are being used for sex so he can go kill the participants. And it ended with a dog peeing in his eye socket (SPOILER). So when WWE bought the LEPRECHAUN series I think it was reasonable to hope that their remake or reboot or freshquel would have a little bit of that attitude. LEPRECHAUN should be trashy fun, right?
That’s not what they were going for I guess. This is a serious movie with very little humor or fun of any kind. It’s competently made, at times well shot, pretty nice lighting and lots of fog. The opening unseen-monster attack has some pretty cool EVIL DEAD-like shots of a victim literally being dragged kicking and screaming through a field in Ireland (Vancouver, BC). There is nothing in it that’s funny-bad, but not that much that’s worth-mentioning-good.
Okay, one part is worth mentioning. Some of the protagonists have axes out ready to defend themselves from an impending “leprechaun” attack, suddenly there’s movement but instead of a little guy coming out of the fireplace it’s their friend sliding out of it and it happens so fast that they just THWACK the ax right through the poor girl’s face and it is very graphically shown on screen. Good job on that one.
Otherwise it’s a completely generic monster movie. A group of young American tourists visit a pub in a small Irish town and are whining about their grad school plans when an old local overhears them talking about studying history and convinces them to come stay in his cabin and learn from him about the history of the town or whatever.
Okay, I said there wasn’t much humor, but it is kinda funny when these nitwits realize that there’s only one door and it’s locked from the outside and all of the windows are covered in bars and they are basically locked in a box as an offering to the snarling creature ripping through the grass outside that their Irish friends said was a warthog. When they get out it chases them around and they scream and during quiet moments they do research about Celtic legends about it or whatever. At one point a lady they met at the pub seems to rescue them and drive them away but she gets out of the car and again they have been locked in a box to be fed to the leprechaun. See, I like these Irish people.
I will say this for the cast: one of the guys I knew I had seen before. It turned out he was in FREDDY VS. JASON. I like FREDDY VS. JASON. That’s the kinda of dumb horror absurdity I can be okay with. Good job being in that movie before, guy I recognized.
But the movie needs more than just people running away from a growling, unseen thing that makes the tall grass move. That’s what it is for the first 50 minutes or so, and admittedly it’s mildly amusing to imagine that it’s a little guy in a hat that they’re so afraid of. But when you see what it actually is that’s when you realize the problem here. It turns out they haven’t been running from a leprechaun, it’s an actual monster with kind of a Nosferatu/skull head, sharp teeth and blind eyes. Not a little person, a beast, like a chupacabra or a W.U.F. from THE DESCENT. A pretty cool monster but, again, not a leprechaun.
Now, it’s possible that director Zach Lipovsky (who directed TASMANIAN DEVILS for the SyFy Channel) was trying to pull a John Hyams and reimagine the series in an unexpectedly serious and thoughtful way, with this monster instead of a leprechaun. But he doesn’t have the chops of Hyams and doesn’t succeed in making a quality horror movie, so he must be held accountable for not having made a leprechaun movie. Until now, even in the worst LEPRECHAUN movie you knew you were gonna have the absurdity of people running from a little guy in a green hat who steals gold. Or of such a creature being on a space ship killing space marines. Or going after rappers who sampled his magic flute.
None of these movies are as good or as funny as you’d hope, but at least you could count on that one stupid thing. A leprechaun can liven up anything. A WWII battle with a leprechaun. A western with a leprechaun. Kull the Lepreconqueror. Leprechaun Air. Only a leprechaun can protect the president. JUST HAVE A LEPRECHAUN! That is the one important thing and these jokers didn’t do it.
Part of the fun of the other ones, if you consider them fun at all, is Warwick Davis being a smartass, saying stupid Freddy lines and rhyming and stuff. It’s just so stupid. You would think they’d still want to do that with their new leprechaun, but it’s fine if they want to give him a different personality. I just wish they’d made him talk! We don’t got alot to work with with these good guys, so the villain should have more character than a pitbull.
It’s especially weird because from what I gather the whole reason WWE bought the LEPRECHAUN franchise was to have a vehicle for this guy “Hornswoggle,” a little person wrestler who is apparently popular with kids and whose trademark is dressing as a leprechaun. I knew it was gonna be him instead of Warwick Davis, and I’m not familiar with him so I wasn’t sure how good he would be. But now I have to wonder, is it really him in the suit? You don’t ever see his face or body shape or hear his voice. How would anyone know? The way they shoot it I couldn’t even tell what size it is, if I had to guess I would not lean toward there being a little person inside the costume. I know it’s not giant but it doesn’t look that small either.
Even if you come from a culture that counts a naked growling bat monster as being a leprechaun there is still no justification for calling it LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS. It’s not a prequel, it doesn’t have flashbacks, and this monster has existed for a long time, it is not originating during this story. I don’t get it. It’s not like anybody really wanted to see the origins of the leprechaun, and the sort of person who did care what the backstory is would already know that they told it in the prologue of LEPRECHAUN BACK 2 THE HOOD.
So why lie and call it LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS? Why not WWE STUDIOS PRESENTS HISTORY VACATION: IRISH MONSTER GUY or something. What ever happened to honor? Don’t fall for this lepre-con.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.