Leprechaun: Origins

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Leprechaun: Origins
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Horror
Distributor: Lionsgate
Developer: WWE Studios
August 22nd, 2014
Release length: 1:30:00

Leprechaun: One of the most embedded names within the Horror genre to date. A series about a pint sized wise-cracking leprechaun who will bite off your ear and make a boot out of it if you so much as touch his pot of gold. Since debuting in 1993, the franchise has found him in Las Vegas, sent him into orbit (Leprechaun 4), and even in the hood not once, but twice (Leprechaun in the Hood, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood). The mixture of comedy, gore, and Irish lore was a picture perfect formula for cult film and b-movie lovers everwhere. So when the WWE announced they would be doing a prequel (which actually turns out to be a reboot) of this series under the guise of Leprechaun: Origins with wrestler Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl as the living myth, no one knew what to expect until the trailers started rolling out to show a darker, grittier version of the villain we’ve all come to know and love. But, as a stand alone modern take on the franchise, does Leprechaun: Origins actually stand as a film worth seeing, or is it really as poor an experience as most critics have hailed it to be?

Origins is the story of four students who are travelling the world, eventually heading off the beaten path of Ireland to happen upon a small little village not on the map. They stop for a pint before meeting with a Hamish (Garry Chalk, Watchmen, Godzilla 2014). He promises to show them something hidden within their little town they won’t soon forget. Next thing you know, he and his son Sean (Teach Grant, Devour, The Tall Man) are taking them to a rarely used cabin to spend the night due to the seven hour hike to their destination. But things change as they learn something is outside the cabin, and they have been trapped inside.

The action starts off fairly quick in this film. The leprechaun, enticed by gold, quickly finds its way in, hunting the four within the cabin. Eventually they get out and happen on Hamish’s old house before the mine closed, learning about the debt that they are the sacrifice the townsfolk hope will repay to keep the creature from running wild in the village. The only issue to be had is that Sean doesn’t understand why they don’t just leave the town, causing a bit of dissent between father and son, which helps the survivors continue onward in hopes of reaching the stones that they believe act as the boundary for the beast so they can escape with their lives.

It’s a fairly simple story that is handled in an equally simple manner. The history is fleshed out through random segments between Hamish and his son, as well as discoveries and general observations such as the leprechaun ripping the gold earring out of the ear of Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Big Time Movie). Gold ends up the major plot point for how the creature seems to be attracted to people. However, it does seem to just be on the hunt for any humans nearby regardless of if they have gold on them or not. This plays into some of the additional characters later on that just seem to be written out of the script, going the fate of Richie Cunningham’s older brother upon ascending the stairs in The Happy Days to go into his room and never come back down again.

Leprechaun: Origins

The other major gripe about Leprechaun: Origins and it’s story progression is that everyone in the film is either an idiot or, for lack of a better term, a general douchebag. Right away, it’s hard to care for David (Brendan Fletcher, Freddy vs. Jason, Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed) thanks to his somewhat ignorant actions and excessive drinking. However, he is one of the few that actually seems to care about his friends, unlike everyone else ready to leave him behind at the drop of a hat, making you wish pretty much everyone else just dies quickly and painfully. This is rarely ever the point of a Horror film, and it’s extremely detrimental here.

And then you have the most idiotic of decisions made by this ensemble of braindead characters. One of them would be the trap they set up to try to trap the leprechaun in the cabin, having one person hide under the stairs while still having gold on them, which they figured out attracts the leprechaun. And then there’s the decision from lead character Sophie (Stephanie Bennett, Grave Encounters 2) to go back and kill the leprechaun instead of just getting to safety and questioning the judgement of her boyfriend Ben (Andrew Dunbar Garage Sale Mystery, Alien Trespass) for later on.

Of course there’s also the issue of light. This movie starts with a young couple being hunted by the leprechaun in broad daylight. However, light is what the thing is sensitive to. So, the unanswered question becomes: What’s stalking in the day? At one point in the film, faeries are mentioned, which are more an evil entity in Irish folklore than what Disney has made them out to be. If it weren’t for the similar snarling sounds, one could assume the thing at the start is not the leprechaun, but rather another random spirit near the large stone in the field that is pointed out to be centuries old and some kind of spirit marker. Sure, you can just assume it turns invisible in daylight to walk in the sun, but since this thing can’t stand light and hunts by body heat, it’s probably just poor writing and a major oversight in the developmental aspects.

If you want any further proof of this, all you have to do is look at the ending. Or, the lack of one, really. Instead of giving any sort of closure, the film ends with the creature still hot on the heels of one of the survivors, once again in broad daylight. Basically, the entire eighty minute runtime of film (not considering the last ten minutes used for an insanely slow credit sequence with clips that offer nothing to the ending or the film itself other than padding) has no ending, not even a cliff hanger. It pretty much just says “Well, hope you enjoyed the ride, cause we have your money.” Again, going back to lazy writing or a cheap quick fix to leave this open to a sequel that we’ll probably get forced down our throats further down the line and be more of the same.

Leprechaun: Origins

So, with nearly every character in this film immediately unlikeable in one way or another, all following one horror plot trope after the next until they go from slaughter point a to slaughter point b, let’s tackle the visual aspect of the film. With the focus on creating a grim, gritty Irish feel to the film, Leprechaun: Origins does this quite well. Most of the settings are moderately believable, and a largely Irish supporting cast of extras definitely helps capture the atmosphere upon entering the small town’s pub. Even the night scenes manage to incorporate enough differences in the terrain for you to know you’re at a different location, especially with the leprechaun itself being smart enough to find its way around certain obstacles but still not fast enough to catch a few bumbling collegiate teens maybe ten, fifteen feet in front of it that don’t seem to have the same mental capacity.

And then there’s the special effects which, when minor, can be good. Things like ripping the earring off Jeni’s ear or pulling a tongue ring out are impressive for what they are. Even the removal of one character’s spinal chord was moderately impressive to watch. However, the separate camera shots akin to Predator‘s hunting by body heat leave a lot to be desired, the constant fading in and out of clarity when one of the cars hits a tree to signify blurry vision (which was just downright irritating as we’re not looking through the person’s eyes but as a third person not physically in the car), and even the axe to the head of what clearly looks like a dummy are all done remarkably poorly. What’s worse, the leprechaun itself looks like a de-feathered over-radiated giant chicken with the beak ripped off, or at least a small man in a suit that looks like that given you can plainly see Dylan’s skin through the eye holes of the costume.

Leprechaun: Origins

Thankfully, for a mixed cast of Action, Science Fiction, and children/family friendly comedy film stars, the acting isn’t all that bad. Andrew Dunbar is basically one step above a plank of wood through most of the film, really only there to be the buzzkill hunk of the flick, while Stephanie Bennett, Melissa Roxburgh, and Brendan Fletcher all do a remarkable job, and, in the case of the ladies, turn out to be some decent scream queens. Garry Chalk does a great job as well, though Teach Grant’s acting skills would be better suited to the overacting of the WWE’s circle square. And, of course, there’s Ian (Bruce Blain, Rampage: Capital Punishment, The Impossible), who offers very little to the film in every way possible. Dylan’s focus on body gestures range from good to minimal, though some close ups that show him at an angle can be kind of intimidating and get the point across well enough.

But, of everything that I have mentioned in this review, the most hair pulling element of annoyance is that you have no idea who anyone is in the film. The names are used, but so very scarcely, or just said as a passing afterthought you’ll ultimately miss them, if not forget them. It wasn’t until I went into the special features of the DVD and watched the two short documentaries for the film (literally around or under five minutes) that I knew which character was who of the main cast, all of which given generic names composed of only one word. Well, except for Gary Peterman’s role credited as Irish Farmer.

Leprechaun: Origins

Leprechaun: Origins is a reboot with a name that makes you automatically assume it’s a prequel thanks to the always superb marketing of the WWE. If you look at it with any inkling of the franchise that existed, you will automatically be let down. But, if you look at this as something other than a modern remake of the pint sized one-liner grounded a little deeper in the darker side of the character’s Irish roots, and it ends up a passable, if not highly predictable film. There is absolutely no denying that Leprechaun: Origins started out as a stand alone film, only being a reboot in name more than likely to keep the Leprechaun copyright active, as well as give the WWE superstar Dylan Postl a starring film role. Sadly, none of this really says a lot for the film. If you want to see someone terrorize a group of college students wearing a poorly designed mutant chicken costume, well then Leprechaun: Origins is a sub-par experience that can kill about eighty minutes.


Overall Score: 4/10

Physical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.