The Pot of Gore: Leprechaun Origins
As The Church of Chang’s foremost lepologist, it’s my duty to review any Leprechaun movie out there. I first heard of a new Lep movie a couple of years ago, when the production company drank in my local boozer. They had the rights and were attempting to get Warwick back to bring us some more zany high-concept Lep fun. Sadly, they lost the rights and it passed on to WWE Studios- who instantly promised to reboot the series. Alarm bells began to ring at this point, if I’m honest. Nevertheless, WWE pressed ahead, and delivered unto us Leprechaun: Origins, and it’s now my sorry duty to bury the corpse of my favourite Horror franchise.
Let’s be clear from the start: this is not a good film. In fact, I’d go as far as stating it’s a terrible film. This time around, because it’s an origins film, we’ve dispensed with the wacky and enjoyably goofy origin introduction. In theory, this isn’t a bad idea as the whole film is going to be an origin, but I’m already kind of missing crappy fake computer animation or book turning fairytale nonsense. It does, however, signify the approach that they’re going to take with the movie. We’re aiming at sub-Nolan realism here, and that sentence, in context of a Leprechaun movie is as depressing a phrase as I’ve ever typed.
So, a group of dopy teens are backpacking around rural Ireland- that owes more than a nod to the Yorkshire moors of American Werewolf in London. There’s some bollocks with the poteen swilling locals and a mystery involving stolen gold, but our two couples are oblivious to this, taking up the locals’ kind offer of an isolated cottage on the edge of the woods. Next thing you know, there’s a pissed off Leprechaun on the loose. Shenanigans completely fail to ensue, as our dreary heroes are offed one by one (and an evil villager or two as well), before our heroic survivor girl utters the less than immortal “fuck you lucky charms” and beheads the Leprechaun. But…. it turns out there’s loads of them out there and we’re wide open for a sequel that I’d be surprised to ever see made.
As a film, this is turd. It’s competent enough- and the actors are decent (particularly Brendan Fletcher). It’s, for a change, too dark though and I struggled to make out what was going on at some points. It is, however, monstrously boring as we’re totally indifferent to the plight of our protagonists and the Leprechaun has been completely devolved to a kind of grunting feral beast with the personality of a fruitarian. So, as a film, Leprechaun Origins fails on its own merits, and completely divorced from the rest of the series, I’d be giving it one of these:
Crap, but competent.
However, it’s a Leprechaun movie, and on those terms it’s a total fucking disaster. So, I’m going to spend the rest of this review looking at where and why it goes so far wrong.
Mistake 1: Reboot
The very concept of rebooting the Leprechaun series is a bad idea. This is possible unique in terms of franchises where the first sequel said “bollocks to continuity” and threw the previous film under the bus. Every single film has had a “different” Leprechaun with different goals, motivations and strengths and weaknesses. There is simply no need to try to reboot a series that has no continuity and insists on picking a goofy idea and having as much fun in that sandbox as possible. In a way, I can kind of see why they did it: a valiant attempt to get away from having Warwick Davis as “that” Leprechaun (because this is the only thing the original films have in common), but it’s simply a terrible and unwanted idea. Which brings me on to Mistake 2:
Mistake 2: No Warwick
Let me put this as simply as possible. No Warwick= no Leprechaun.
I used to say that Warwick was probably the greatest little person actor that’s ever walked the face of the planet, but The Dink’s turn in the otherwise awful Game of Thrones and the guy in In Bruges have made me rethink that statement a bit. It’s still safe to say he’s in the upper echelons though. More to the point, Warwick has a unique body shape for a little person, with surprisingly “long” (in this context) legs and whatnot. This allows him to appear more sprightly and less solid than other little people actors- which works a treat when dealing with a supernatural homicidal Irish midget. Furthermore, Warwick is a dab hand at accents, and can, thus, pull off the “Japers” Irish accent without breaking a sweat. The unique combination Warwick has makes him the only person on the planet that could pull this role off. While Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl is probably a decent actor in his own right, they’ve reduced the Leprechuan to a grunting animal to minimise the need for actual acting and so I haven’t a clue if he’d make at least a passable Leprechaun.
Basically, the attempt to minimise the lack of Warwick renders the film charmless and mostly boring.
Mistake 3: Realism
For fuck’s sake. Some ideas are bad, but you can kind of ignore them, some ideas are bad, and make everything better by existing, and some ideas are bad and severely damage whatever they’re attached to. Making a film about supernatural Irish magic midgets with a gold craving and a bent for homicide “realistic” is a howlingly bad idea. I honestly can’t understand why you’d do this- it’s Midichlorian level bad and as such a colossal, franchise killing fuck up, as all it does is reduce the film to being another dreary slasher set in a cabin in the woods, effectively performing a charm-ectomy on the film. Which brings me on to Mistake 4:
Mistake 4: Discarding the high concept
The Leprechaun films are, at their best, entertaining high-concept disasters. This is a series where each individual film effectively functions in the service of a gimmick- Vegas, In Space, In the Hood, etc etc etc. The point of the series, when it’s at its best, is to drop a seriously unlikely movie monster into a ludicrous situation then gleefully wallow around in the mess made. The error made here, in part, is tied in to the reboot and realism mistakes, because in their attempt to make a “serious” origin film, they flushed the greatest selling point of the franchise down the toilet . Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to watch a glum Leprechaun slasher film, but we might want to watch some arrant stupidity like Lep in Feudal Japan, or Lep in the old West.
Mistake 5: Losing the gimmicks
Similar to Mistake 4, each Leprechaun himself had a gimmick of some description. Whether zombie hos, turning to the green side, regenerating alien princesses or even shoe fetishism, they all had some goofy gimmick that made the Leprechaun essentially a comic character. I support the gimmick here was sub-Predator level Lep-vision, but that’s kind of boring and hackneyed. What all these gimmicks have in common though is that they supply some levity to the Leprechaun- something a bit unusual that allows us to laugh at the monster.
Mistake 6: Losing the laughs
Now I mention it, the idea of a homicidal Leprechaun is inherently silly and humourous. The original films understood this, Origins does not. Seriously- break it down look at it objectively- the whole concept is completely ridiculous. The Leprechaun does not fit easily into the mold of horror villain. He’s at his best in inherently humorous comic situations- Lep in Vegas doing Elvis impersonations, or wielding a lightsabre in space and mesmerizing cyborg drill seargants into dancing in drag. This is inherently funny and goofy shit, and arguably what provides the entertainment in the series. Origins, by becoming sombre and glum, actually makes the silliness more apparent and thus the film more boring.
I could go on here, but it’s getting me down now. Anyway, you get the drift. My rating for Leprechaun Origins is a well earned Orangutan of Doom, and that they chose to go with this glum, boring and unentertaining version of the Leprechaun when they could have gone for Lep by Gaslight, or Lep in the White House (both actually mooted ideas) makes me depressed. Bring by the joy to the Leprechaun film, and give us Spring Break- wall to wall boob, and laughs galore.
Until next time,