D: Zach Lipovsky / 90m
Cast: Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh, Brendan Fletcher, Dylan Postl, Garry Chalk, Teach Grant, Bruce Blain, Mary Black
Backpacking through Ireland, two young American couples – Sophie (Bennett) and Ben (Dunbar), Jeni (Roxburgh) and David (Fletcher) – are heading for a mysterious village that has a standing stone on its outskirts. At the inn, the friends get talking to Hamish (Chalk), a local who appears friendly and welcoming, and when he learns they are interested in the village’s history, he offers them the chance to stay overnight in a cabin just outside the village. The friends take up Hamish’s offer, and though the cabin isn’t exactly comfortable, they settle in for the night. Some time later, Jeni hears a noise outside.
The four friends soon realise there’s something “out there” and that it wants to get in. When it does, the quartet escape the cabin only to discover that Hamish has set them up to be sacrifices to a creature they call a leprechaun. Horrified to find that the legend is real, the four now find themselves having to defend themselves from the murderous attacks of the leprechaun, but also from a determined Hamish and his son, a more sympathetic Sean (Grant). As the leprechaun picks them off one by one, it becomes clear that the only way to survive the night is to reach the standing stone, which not only marks the village boundary but is the point beyond which the leprechaun cannot go.
It was perhaps inevitable that, in the wake of all the other horror reboots that have been foisted on us over the last six or seven years, the Leprechaun series would be dusted off and given the update treatment. However, the only thing this particular remake/reboot/reimagining proves is – once again – that some movies shouldn’t be made, especially when there’s as little imagination and skill involved as there is here. The original sextet of Leprechaun movies may be fondly remembered for their cheesy humour and semi-inventive killings, and they may have made Warwick Davis even more well-known than his turn as Wicket in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, but they still got worse as they went on until the last entry, 2003’s Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood, had all but jettisoned the horror in favour of infantile humour. With that in mind, the producers’ decision to go a different route is to be applauded. Alas, it’s the only thing they got right.
They say it’s easy enough to make a horror movie, but on this evidence, the adage should read: it’s easy enough to make a terrible horror movie. Because Leprechaun: Origins is exactly that: a terrible horror movie. It features by-the-numbers, uninspired plotting that sees the four friends running from one building or vehicle to another ad nauseam; phoned in performances from a cast who give new meaning to the word insipid; direction that distracts due to its waywardness and lack of cohesion; dialogue that sounds like it was dictated through hidden earpieces and repeated by the cast; the by now obligatory Canadian locations that are blandly photographed (by Mahlon Todd Williams); a score by Jeff Tymoschuk that does little to increase the minimal amounts of tension created by Harris Wilkinson’s unimaginative script; a creature that is supposed to be single-minded in its purpose but which pauses/hesitates/suspends its attempts to kill everyone when the script requires it (and whether they have gold on them or not); a special effects budget that limits itself to one (admittedly effective) kill shot; and the entirely predictable post credits scene that sets up an equally predictable sequel (though hopefully this outing will do so badly it won’t happen).
With the movie looking so much like a drab, lacklustre slasher movie – though without the benefit of having an actual slasher in it – the casual viewer might expect the leprechaun itself to be more effectively realised than the Gollum/Orc-style creature presented here. Worse still is the movie’s advertising, which heavily promotes WWE “superstar” Hornswoggle (aka Dylan Postl) as the leprechaun. It’s a bit of a cheat on WWE’s part to do so as Postl is unrecognisable beneath the layers of leprechaun make up, and has no lines either (though this is probably a good thing). Literally anyone could play the role in these circumstances, and while it’s always been the case that WWE tailor their “superstars” movie roles to their experience/acting skills, it doesn’t say much for Postl that he’s buried so completely in the part.
And lastly, a quick mention for the deceptive running time. The end credits (including the post credits scene mentioned above) run for a full twelve minutes, so the movie is, in real terms, much shorter… but it still drags like watching a balloon slowly deflate.
Rating: 3/10 – woeful from start to finish, Leprechaun: Origins screams “cheap and nasty rip off”; with cast and crew displaying a bare minimum of commitment or creativity, this is one reboot that has little or no chance of striking gold.