Updated: Nov 15, 2019
The Leprechaun movies have been around for quite some time now, released in 1993 it is well known for being Jennifer Aniston’s (Friends) first major acting role. The other thing that the movie (and the series) is well known for, is the wisecracking antics of the titular Leprechaun himself, who was played, almost exclusively, by Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi, Harry Potter).
Dressed in that stereotypical leprechaun garb of green suit, hat and boots with shiny buckles, the Leprechaun may have pushed Irish stereotypes to breaking point, but he was a fun character and that was part of his charm.
The character was never one to be taken seriously as he rhymed and wisecracked his way through the movie whilst searching for his precious gold, but that was what made it stand out. Witty limericks weren’t the only thing up the sleeve of this diminutive demon however and he excelled at killing in the most ludicrously silly ways that hadn’t been seen before. I’m pretty sure the original 1993 movie was the first time I’d seen anyone get killed by a leprechaun on a pogo stick repeatedly jumping on them.
He also utilised a few different vehicles with which he could wreak mayhem, including a modified lawnmower, roller skates, a toy car and even a teeny tiny tricycle.
At the end of the movie, the Leprechaun was destroyed via a four-leafed-clover that was shot into his mouth with a cry of, “Fuck you Lucky Charms.” Which caused to him melt. His little semi-melted body tumbled into a well which was then blown up for good measure.
But you can’t keep a Leprechaun down for long and he returned the following year in Leprechaun 2.
Things got weird as the sequels progressed and we ended up with Leprechaun in Space for the 4th movie, followed by Leprechaun in the Hood and then Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood which was released in 2003.
After that, things went quiet on the Leprechaun front and it seemed as though the franchise had finally hit its end. That was until WWE Films announced that they were going to reboot the franchise. For the first time though, we would be getting a Leprechaun movie without Warwick Davis in the titular role and to replace him, they cast WWE wrestler Dylan Postl, better known under his wrestling name of Hornswaggle. As Hornswaggle was a leprechaun character he seemed like the perfect choice. Sure, he didn’t speak until he was given a voice by Santa Clause (damn, wrestling is fucking weird), but given his whole shtick, it seemed to make sense to cast him in the lead role.
Unfortunately, the film was just awful. Rather than have Dylan dressed in the familiar Leprechaun attire that not only was the franchise known for, but Dylan was too, they turned him into a little creature that more resembled some sort of goblin from Lord of the Rings.
Since then it's been claimed that it’s nothing to do with the franchise but either way, it looked like we wouldn’t see any more from the pint-sized peril. I’m sure that most people thought that was a good thing as the character was ridiculous, but I always liked the first one for exactly that reason. It knew not to take itself seriously and just had fun.
And now we come around to 2019 and a whole new Leprechaun outing in Leprechaun Returns.
For this movie, the Leprechaun series pulls the same trick as last year’s Halloween reboot/sequel and ignores all of the sequel movies and goes straight in for being a sequel to the original flick from 1993.
Set 25 years after the events of the original film, Leprechaun Returns tells of Lila (Taylor Spreitler – Amityville: The Awakening, Kevin can Wait) as the daughter of Tory Reding, Jennifer Anniston’s character from the first movie. She’s heading back her mom’s home from the first film to help a small group of girls turn it into an eco-friendly sorority house. The remains of the well in which the Leprechaun perished are still standing and her mother’s childhood friend, Ozzie is still living in town, with the character being played by Mark Holton (Gacy, Hoboken Hollow), who’s reprising his role from the first movie.
Of course, there wouldn’t be a movie without the Leprechaun and after someone accidentally ingests some of the well water, he’s (literally) reborn. And, he’s looking for his gold.
Leprechaun Returns not only works as a sequel to the original but is also ideal for anyone not familiar with the serious and making their first journey into the Leprechauns crazy world. References to the original are handled well with the Leprechaun even commenting on his slightly different look.
Remember in the original how Ozzie’s ear was chomped on by the Leprechaun? When we meet Ozzie this time around, one of his ears is horribly scarred. It’s not mentioned and it’s not really focused on, it’s just there and not only is that a really nice touch, but it’s also how you should do a reference by keeping it subtle and not ramming it down the audience’s throat.
The chemistry between Lila and her sorority pals Katie (Pepi Sonuga), Rose (Sai Bennet), Meredith (Emily Reid) and the two boys Andy (Ben McGregor) and Matt (Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins) works well. Even when the characters are being obnoxious towards one another, they don’t wear out their screen time.
There’s no sign of Warwick as the Leprechaun is now being played by Linden Porco (Channel Zero) but will that work for the franchise? After all, whenever the casting of the memorable lead villain is changed, there’s usually uproar. Freddy without Robert Englund? Hellraiser without Doug Bradley? Unthinkable. But what about Leprechaun without Warwick?
Turns out, it actually works. Linden seems to completely get the character and has fun with it. In fact writer Suzanne Keilly (whose credits include the fantastic Ashy Slashy episode from season 2 of Ash vs Evil Dead) and director Steven Kostanski (Father’s Day, The Void) clearly, understand the character.
The silliness of the character with his Irish brogue and constant wisecracks and limericks is counter-balanced nicely by the cast, with only a few dips in the proceedings. Sometimes the Leprechaun’s comments are absolutely nothing to do with anything, such as when he states something along the lines of, “I love the smell of me gold in the morning.” It didn’t really tie-in with the scene, apart from the fact that, yes, it was morning, but that’s a pretty tenuous link at best.
It also took a slight dip for me at around the 60-minute mark as things seemed to slow down a little bit and I was getting ready for the end of the movie at that point, but overall, I had a fun time watching this.
The Leprechaun has always been a bit of a “love it or hate it” character with horror fans and this version may not win over anyone who never liked it to begin with, but I think it was handled well. It’s not without its faults but it’s supposed to be silly, goofy fun with splashes of blood and gore and on that account, it succeeded.