Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl
Ahh, the Leprechaun series. Most notable for the appearance of Jennifer Aniston in the first film and giving Warwick Davis something to do for nearly two decades, I don’t think anyone would consider the series part of horror’s higher echelon. Personally I’ve never been able to fathom how the series has lasted as long as it has and gained such a cult following. The only film in the series I particularly enjoyed was 1995’s Leprechaun 3, which brought the titular character to Las Vegas and featured Caroline Williams (Stretch from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2). A lot of that had to do with the fact that they realized no one was going to take the Leprechaun seriously and started to have some fun with it. When it was announced that WWE Studios was producing Leprechaun Origins, a reinvention (not a remake!) of the series, most horror fans didn’t even bat an eye. I think the only uproar related to the film is that Warwick Davis was being replaced as the demonic fairytale character, in favor of Dylan Postl, better known to wrestling fans as Hornswoggle. So would this reinvention continue along the wacky path the later films in the series partook in, or would they make the potentially unwise decision to go serious again?
The film begins with a pre-credits sequence showing two soon-to-be victims running through the forest only to be attacked and killed by an unseen assailant. Following the credits we meet two couples, Ben (Andrew Dunbar) and Sophie (Stephanie Bennett) as well as Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh) and David (Brendan Fletcher, best known for his appearances in Ginger Snaps 2 and Freddy Vs. Jason), who are coming upon the end of their vacation in Ireland. After stopping at a local pub, they meet Hamish (Garry Chalk) who offers them the use of his cabin for the evening. In the middle of the night Jeni sees something moving outside the cabin that scares her, waking everyone else up in the process. The group soon discover that they have been locked inside the cabin, and they aren’t alone.
Writer Harris Wilkinson and director Zach Lipovsky make the decision to treat Leprechaun Origins as a serious horror film, making their best attempts to keep the film dark and humorless. Unfortunately this simply does not work for a Leprechaun movie. The Leprechaun is such a ridiculous villain that it needs to have a lighter sense to it for the film to be even moderately enjoyable, and the decision to treat the creature seriously is one of the film’s biggest faults. What could have been a decent and fun throwback slasher/creature film ends up being a jumbled mess of ideas. The filmmakers decide that just an evil leprechaun trying to kill people isn’t enough to sustain the whole film, so they throw in a convoluted subplot about how the villagers trap “outsiders” as sacrifices to keep them safe from the creature.
Casting Postl as the Leprechaun was pointless as well, as any smaller person could have played the role since it is under heavy prosthetic makeup. Unlike the original series, the Leprechaun does not speak and has no personality to speak of. Whether you love or hate the Warwick Davis starring films, you could always at least enjoy the horrible rhymes that the Leprechaun would spit out. Another terrible idea related to the Leprechaun is giving him some sort of “Predator” style vision, which is also never expanded upon. Considering that the film usually jumps to this vision right after ridiculously shaky camera movements, all it really does is give you a headache.
How about the gore? Yeah, for the most part, it’s non-existent. The only scene worth noting would be the removal of a character’s spine, which was actually decent. The film tries to go out in style with the Leprechaun being beheaded with a machete, but the removal of the head is done quite poorly with CGI. Think about this for a second, the original Friday The 13th had essentially the same ending, and it looked 100 times more real. That film came out in 1980. This is a moderately budgeted, studio-backed film in 2014. This is simply unacceptable.
Leprechaun Origins could have been a lot of fun. No one expected it to be a horror classic by any means, but the film ends up being ridiculously boring. And if there is one thing that a horror film cannot be, it is boring.