Directed by Steven Kostanski
Written by Mark Jones, Suzanne Kelly
Starring Linden Porco, Taylor Sprietler, Pepi Sonuga
I have something of a special place in my heart for the "Leprechaun" series. It was weird, wild stuff, and it was also the first horror movie I ever saw, on VHS, no less. Watching a young Jennifer Aniston fight off a bizarrely-attired Warwick Davis was something of a turning point in my life. So when I found out that Lionsgate brought it back for "Leprechaun Returns," I had to go for it. But did it age anything approaching well?
"Leprechaun Returns" features the titular franchise monster, back for more blood and horror. This time, the movie advances forward about 25 years, and features Lila, a sorority girl and daughter of the original Tory Reding, played originally by Jennifer Aniston, who wouldn't come back because of a lack of a sufficient "economic agreement." Anyway. Lila joins her sorority sisters as they attempt to rebuild the original house into a "green" living space. The Leprechaun also comes back--but Warwick Davis did not, mainly because he had recently had children and, as such, was rethinking the whole horror concept. So now, a new Leprechaun takes on new sorority girls and a good old fashioned donnybrook ensues. Who will walk away from this newly-minted mess?
Okay, so no Warwick Davis, no Jennifer Aniston, and a whole pack of no-names taking on a low-budget horror classic that has decided to retcon "Leprechaun 2" through "Origins" out of the picture. I don't know whether to be amazed or horrified.
And then the two most chilling words in the English language showed up on screen: "SyFy Original."
It's time to be horrified.
I spent the next five minutes screaming profanities at my television set, from a fetal position on the floor. Putting a classic low-budget franchise in SyFy's hands is like putting Michelangelo's "David" in the hands of a coked-out chimp whose fingers are completely coated in coconut oil. It will not end well.
And it took about 16 minutes for it to not go well. The Leprechaun's return is easily the single most preposterous thing I've seen in I don't know how long. Once you get around this dose of preposterous, however, it's clear that they're going back to form. The Leprechaun's wisecracking capabilities are all in full bloom--he even manages to call back to the original and the clear fact that Warwick Davis is no longer wearin' of the green--even if his killing skills are no longer quite so sharp. It's actually kind of sad; Davis' Leprechaun was a credible monster who still managed to incorporate humor with his killing; Porco's is a giggly sociopath who's somewhere between creepy and pathetic. There's even a great callback to the shoe bit from the original, which I cannot fail to give them credit for.
However, it's good to see some of the original horror tropes brought back to life. After so many horror movies featuring triumphant bad guys and tortured protagonists, it's good to see some straight fights and strategizing come back. This is a fine little slice of 90s horror. Though it's not executed quite so well as we might like, it's in good shape. That they brought callbacks to the original, which happened basically 25 years prior, is a serious point in this thing's favor.
The ending features some new twists that I really don't recall were part of the original, but work at least reasonably well. Shades of deus ex machina running through this, but the notion of "better than nothing" applies. There's a pleasant twist at the end too, which doesn't hurt.
Special features include English and Spanish subtitles, a featurette with the director, a still gallery, behind the scenes footage, and trailers for "Hell Fest", "Leatherface", and "Jigsaw".
All told, "Leprechaun Returns" is actually not half bad. It builds on the tropes the original worked nicely with, and though its execution is less than stellar--Porco, if you were half the Leprechaun Davis was you'd be twice the Leprechaun you were in this--it's still a sufficient shout-out to the original to be worth catching.