Leprechaun: Origins – 1 out of 5
The Leprechaun franchise is one of those cheesy horror film franchises that I really enjoy. I don’t think it’s scary or that any of them are well-made but I won’t deny how funny and fun they are to watch. There is definitely a palpable level of fucks not given with each film—heck, the franchise went twice to da hood and even went to space, that’s the level of fucks this film series gave—and there’s no denying the charm to Warwick Davis as the Leprechaun. Surprisingly, last year, the WWE and their movie studio decided to reboot the franchise and, rather than go with the working fun formula, attempted to change it into a serious horror feature. Did this shake up make Leprechaun: Origins better than what we’ve previously seen? In my humble opinion, absolutely not.
Four completely nondescript white college student backpackers hitchhike their way to a small village in Ireland where they seek history, booze and possibly copious amounts of sex. After one of the kids—Sophie (Stephanie Bennett)—learns from a local named Hamish (Garry Chalk) about some interesting sites, they decide to stay the night in a seedy cabin loaned to them from the local and his son Sean (Teach Grant). However, they soon learn that they are merely an offering to a creature that the village disturbed some time ago and the only thing keeping them from being killed is giving the beast sacrifices. Now Sophia, her boyfriend Ben (Andrew Dunbar) and her friends David (Brendan Fletcher) and Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh) must try and escape the wrath of the monster and get to the safety of the town’s outskirts or they will see themselves victims to the evil Leprechaun.
|"We're generic college kids! Let's get into non-specific backpacking that eventually|
leads to formulaic horror!"
Going the serious route is a drastic change in tone from what we are used to in this series and, while I won’t begrudge a risk (going for straight horror worked stupidly well with the Evil Dead remake), I ultimately think this gamble was a bust because this film was even harder to take seriously than all of the other films. So, what kept this from working?
|"What is ye problem, son? I'm only asking ya to help lead some innocent|
travelers to their deaths. You've been this way ever since ya were a kid.
Remember the fuse ya threw when I'd ask ye to eat your veggies?"
The acting in the film was actually fairly decent. The four as the college students may have characters that are pretty bland, one-dimensional and lack any real sense of intrigue due to the reality that they are basically horror film clichés but, all-in-all they are doing their jobs well. Sure, there are times that I laughed at their performances but that was mostly to the couples behavior of Fletcher and Roxburgh—their overly familiar trope of being the oversexed couple was so redundant and seen before so often in the world of horror that it was hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all—and I did laugh at a point where Brendan Fletcher started to take his role a tad too seriously and was taking a scene that was meant to be more light-hearted and acted like he was in the most serious moment of the most serious film to ever exist. His face was so stone-set in an overly serious concentration face that I half expected his flesh to rip off his skull due to the strain of his extremely determined listening. He was just listening that fucking hard and he was prepared to overact the fuck out of that listening. However, these moments aside, the acting was fairly decent and, in the case of Garry Chalk and Teach Grant, some of the players were very good.
|Or maybe the intense face is the only way Fletcher listens?|
So, why was this film such a waste of time? It could easily be the fact that the entire plot plays out in the most predictable manner and even goes towards the line of lifting/borrowing/flat out stealing scenes/sequences/elements from other films. Or it could be that director Zach Lipovsky was so desperate to never show you the Leprechaun that ever shot of him is badly obscured with either strange camera angles, weak quick cuts, shaking camera usage or just flat-out blurry the shot to the point you wonder if you have something in your eye—and all of this is done so repetitively and so often that I started to wonder if Lipovsky reached his limit of creativity with attempting to hide the creatures features. Then, it's at that point that he does the POV shots from the Leprechaun. It is both of these things but the biggest mistake this film was attempting to make the Leprechaun a serious contender for a terrifying beast.
|How can the creature see anything with this shitty vision?|
The film already loses some major points by being one of those horror films that attempts to turn relatively harmless fork lore and mythological ideas into something more primeval and frightening. Rarely does this ever work and it usual results in something that is more goofy than anything else and this is seen here in Origins. The harder this film tries to make the Leprechaun a monster that is meant to terrify you the more I found myself laughing at the absolute absurdity of it all. Even when Freddy is cracking wise and Jason is punching a dude’s head off in Manhattan, the badass core to these characters is still there and you still perceive them as a threat on some level. You just can’t get that with the Leprechaun. With the film series’ history, the actual legend of the wee little gold hoarder and the reality of how awful the costume is in this film (when you get some glances of it) it was made nearly impossible to take the threat seriously. The fact that the creature barely kills anyone (and one of the biggest kills wasn’t done by him and the rest of them are done mostly off screen or barely scene because of the attempts to hide the Leprechaun) only ends up working against the movie and pretty much puts the nail in the coffin of any threat the film’s antagonist could possibly have. Shit, Hamish and his dastardly plan to sacrifice the kids was more terrifying than anything the Leprechaun did.
|"Come on out, kids. I mean no harm. I just want the a mythological beast to|
Finally, the reality that this was produced by the WWE and their production company really hurt any possible credibility the film could have had. No, this isn’t because I hate pro wrestling—the opposite is actually the case there. While I don’t watch the WWE anymore, I still think pro wrestling is cool and I have the utmost respect for those athletes and what they do to their bodies in the name of sports entertainment. No, instead the reason their name carries little weight is due to their track record with films. Their name has not been attached to any really decent or half-way watchable films (to me, anyway). Additionally, including one of the wrestlers to play the Leprechaun—one who would actually wrestle as a Lucky Charms-esque leprechaun—didn’t help things or make the film better in any way. In fact, since the Leprechaun is never actually shown properly, having one of their wrestlers play the role and not a cheaper unknown take the part proved to be utterly pointless and really just smacked of Vince McMahon's ego and his need to have his product stamped deeply into it.
|And the film has the audacity to not have a stupid one-liner after this death.|
Not even something like, "Let me axe you this? Do you have a splitting headache?"
Amusing side note: Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl (the wrestler who plays the Leprechaun) stated that he never saw the other films and never planned to because doing so might have an impact on his performance. I read this before watching this film and the moment the credits hit and asked myself, “What performance?” You would never know it was this wrestler because there literally is no performance for the creature. For one, the monster is barely in the film due to the fact it is constantly filmed around and, secondly, the Leprechaun just growls and snarls. I’m not entirely sure how Postl could have had his performances ruined by watching other films. I’m not entirely sure that he even had any say on how to play the Leprechaun since it really feels like the character’s presentation was feathered out in a single sentence in the script. I doubt there was any creative license allowed on Postl’s part.
|So...they really went with that as the costume, eh?|
Leprechaun: Origins took a risk and actively went against absolutely everything you saw in the original series. There was no goofy antagonist in buckled shoes, no magic to create ironic deaths (hell, this film felt like it barely had a body count) and there was no tongue-in-cheek tone to make the feature amusing. Instead, the film decided to make the Leprechaun a serious monster and hold a tone that lacks any humor. If the film actually crafted a suspenseful atmosphere or even contained a unique horror movie feel, this film might have worked and the gamble might have paid off but with a laughable monster, little-to-no death shown or even presenting any real gore, and the downright silly and repetitive attempts the film makes in an effort to not show you its silly, nonthreatening monster creates a film that is infinitely more laughable than all the other films…except, in this case, the laughs were wholly unintentional.