Leprechaun Returns, 2018.
Directed by Steven Kostanski.
Starring Taylor Spreitler, Pepi Sonuga, Sai Bennett, Mark Holton, Linden Porco, and Emily Reid.
A group of eco-warrior students tear down a farmhouse and unwittingly awaken the dormant Leprechaun that fell into the well 25 years before.
The second reboot for this franchise after the abysmal Leprechaun: Origins back in 2014, Leprechaun Returns follows the current trend for horror franchises by being a direct sequel to the original movie and totally writing off all of the other sequels, which in the case of the Leprechaun series is probably a good thing.
Leprechaun Returns picks up 25 years after the events of the first film and sees Lila (Taylor Spreitler – Amityville: The Awakening) arriving at the site of the old farmhouse where her mother Tory (played by Jennifer Aniston in the first film) used to live, and where she is hooking up with a group of sorority sisters in order to build an eco-friendly sorority house. As if that wasn’t coincidental enough, first film survivor Ozzie (a returning Mark Holton) is the local taxi service and shows up to give Lila a ride, and once Lila reveals who her mother was Ozzie gets twitchy and offers up several Pet Sematary-style warnings before the inevitable happens and Ozzie becomes the conduit for Lubdan the leprechaun (Linden Porco – Channel Zero) to return to our world and reclaim his gold. Cue lots of puns and a surprising amount of gore…
Original Leprechaun star Warwick Davis was apparently offered the chance to reprise his most famous role but declined on the grounds that he does not want to make any more horror movies while he has young children. Probably just as well that he passed on this one then as Leprechaun Returns is certainly the most graphic and bloody of the series, featuring decapitations, body melts, a trophy through the skull (oh yes!) and Lubdan emerging from Ozzie’s body in a gorgeously realised emergence effect that is reminiscent of Freddy emerging from Jessie’s body in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and the best thing about all of the gore gags is that they are practical, so when Lubdan removes his face for an evil cackle – again, reminiscent of Freddy Krueger – you get the full icky effect with lines of drool and green blood dripping from his skull. It really is the little details that make it and the fact that the filmmakers and producers had the confidence and skill to pull it off with what they were working with is part of what makes Leprechaun Returns so much fun. There is CGI here but it is used sparingly and used well, but when it comes to blood being sprayed over actors you know that this cast and crew got their hands (and faces) dirty.
The other element that the filmmakers got right was the casting of the main characters. The four female leads – Lila, Katie (Pepi Sonuga – Ash vs. Evil Dead), Rose (Sai Bennett – Close to the Enemy) and Meredith (Emily Reid – Curfew) – are all clearly defined and play different levels of likeable (Rose is the catalyst for the eco project but where did she get the money – or, more accurately, gold coins – to pay for the rebuild?) but there is a genuine chemistry between the actors and all play their parts well. There are two male boyfriend characters that show up but they are just fodder for Lubdan, which leaves Linden Porco to bring back the character originally played by Warwick Davis and he does a remarkably good job. Clearly having a blast, Porco’s accent and delivery may occasionally slip but if you didn’t know about the change of actor you would be hard pressed to tell as the make-up job is very similar to the original, with a few minor tweaks here and there, and as such the film feels like a natural continuation from where it all started 25 years ago.
To go into Leprechaun Returns with a high level of criticism is a bit redundant as you know what you’re getting before the opening scenes start, and if you are a fan of the original then there is no reason not to like this one. The decision to bring back the title character in the style of the original was the right move after the disastrous blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quick edits of Leprechaun: Origins made him a faceless monster with no personality, and although it is still a movie about a killer leprechaun that doesn’t really warrant a discussion about artistic merit, Leprechaun Returns is a very credible and hugely entertaining throwback to ‘80s/’90s horror comedies that is genuinely funny, pleasingly violent and blood-spattered, and lovingly put together by a genuine fan of the era that spawned it. Yes, it is not exactly The Shining or The Exorcist but is there anything wrong with just being terrifically silly fun from start to finish?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★