Leprechaun Returns(2018)(Review)[Weirdo Wednesday]
In 1993, we were introduced to yet another supernatural serial killer. This one was a pint-sized slasher with magical powers named Leprechaun. Portrayed by Warwick Davis, we were able to see a movie that had as much humor as it had bite. The original film, as well as the 7 sequels, let us see a monster that remained as despicable as he was at inception, and although we see him go through some environmental changes, he ultimately remained the same.
For better and for worse, the character has not gone through any serious transformations leading to a division of fans of the franchise (as in comparison to the Halloween or the Friday the 13th franchises, for example). With varying writers and directors, we saw the sequels go from straight-forward and safe, to the bizarre and back again. For example: the 3rd film in the series he went to Las Vegas. In the 4th, he went to outer space. In the 5th and 6th he went to the hood and back. And the 7th sequel saw him reimagined back in Ireland to show us where the legend began. These location changes didn’t do so much for the lore of the story itself, but they helped shape the originality of the kills throughout them serving more so as set pieces and excuses to embrace absurdity.
All of these sequels can be argued over whether or not they did justice to the series, or if they even contribute to cinema itself as decent worthwhile viewings (for what it’s worth, the 3rd and 4th are my favorites strictly for the fun factor). We must note however that Leprechaun: Origins (film number 7 in the chain) was the first sequel to feature a new actor playing the titular monster. The announcement of the departure of Warwick Davis was enough to shake off most long running fans that the franchise had established before the movie itself even had a chance to perform.
However in 2018, director Steve Kostanski was tasked with attempting to revive the series while also needing to feature yet another new name as the Leprechaun. In this outing, Linden Porco dons the outfit and hat and envelopes the same personality as Warwick had. When it comes down to comparisons, I honestly enjoyed Linden’s performance. His onscreen presence made me anxious and his enthusiasm for his murders pulled me into his world. Often times I found myself genuinely curious as to what was going to happen. On top of his performance, his makeup and wardrobe was fantastic, his accent worked well, and his dialogue essentially matched the rhyming and sadistic tone we had all come to love. My only slight complaint would be with his laughter – for a character that has laughter occupy about half of his dialogue, his winded and screechy shrills began to annoy me around halfway through the film. Throw that to the side though, and you are given an actor who was able to fill some rather big shoes.
Leprechaun Returns sets a group of sorority sisters out in the middle of nowhere where they are remodeling an old cabin into a new home away from home that is off the grid – complete with solar panels, a self-sustaining garden, and even a well for water. There is no cell service and the nearest town/campus is said to be almost an hour away. The water well on the premises is where the Leprechaun was disposed of at the end of the original 1993 film. This film essentially pulls a Halloween (2018) where it attempts to be a stand-alone sequel that ignores the others and solely hones in on the original for the backstory. So in short, 25 years after his debut and disappearance, Leprechaun has returned to continue searching for his gold.
Storywise, this film pays homage to its roots while establishing itself as an up-to-date entry. It is able to assert itself into the same universe as the first film while not being a duplicate of the formula. The idea of the sorority trying to go green and exist off the grid helps set a realistic tone for the isolation our group faces when the encounter happens. The film doesn’t really try to add to the life of Leprechaun by incorporating any grand twists or real advancements for his character; it more or less just plays it straight, focusing more on the atmosphere and the kills - a safe move which I believe worked for the better.
The characters attempt to have fun with the audience, acting on a meta level by doing things like asking each other why they’re storming off for dramatic effect. Sometimes it can be obnoxious, but before it hits that point it serves as a good sport of fun.
Important qualities that hold well throughout the film are the characters, the location, the content of gore, and the believability of the situation. All of the characters are likeable except for the one sister whose labelled within the group as “the asshole,” the kills are creative and pleasing for gorehounds, and the set works wonderfully as its own entity within the universe.
In Conclusion: although this film does not attempt to break any new grounds within the series, it does a very good job at holding its own weight. The ridiculous and silly elements are welcome (as they always have been in the Leprechaun franchise), and the kills are very fun and even somewhat surprising with how they are pulled off.
Did I enjoy it on my first visit? Yes
Would I go back for seconds? Yes
Would I recommend it? Yes. It may not be the strongest entry in the series, but in comparison to the many risks that the franchise is known to take, I believe this is a fun and satisfying entry for both returning and new fans alike.
Final Score: 3/5