I can’t help it. I’ve got a soft spot for a horror movie that attempts to make a non-threatening entity scary and the newest entry in the Leprechaun octalogy, LEPRECHAUN RETURNS, does not disappoint. Horror franchises usually go through the same pattern of sequels:
Decent original, rehashed sequel, terrible threequel, funny take sequel, goes to the city sequel, GOES TO SPACE sequel, gritty dark reboot, “screw it make it funny again” sequel.
For the uninitiated, Leprechaun the original from 1993, is a tale of the Reeding family besieged by a vengeful Leprechaun released from his wooden crate prison in the basement of the O’Grady farmhouse by the unwitting brush of a suppressing four-leaf clover. What follows is an onslaught of attacks by the Leprechaun on the family with go-carts, a pogo stick and… shoe-shining. LEPRECHAUN RETURNS takes us back to this original setting with even more over the rainbow murders and luck puns that would make any Vaudevillian proud.
I’ll admit, I didn’t realize how prolific the Leprechaun series had become and had to spend a little time down a Wikipedia rabbit hole to catch up. Leprechaun titles to date include:
Leprechaun 2 (1994)
Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)
Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)
Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
Over the course of 15 years, the Leprechaun series has run the gamut from silly premise to a much darker reboot. What sets LEPRECHAUN RETURNS apart is a real love for this character. LEPRECHAUN RETURNS is both silly and thoughtful in its execution setting the story 20 years in the future with Lila (daughter of “Tory” aka Jennifer Aniston from the original film) moving into an eco-friendly sorority house that just happens to be the same farmhouse a certain Irish mythological creature was vanquished forever. Or was he?
Spoiler, he wasn’t. Lila and her eco-friendly sorority sisters (uptight Rosie, down to earth Katie and heavy drinking mean girl Meredith) along with two unfortunate dudes just there to party with the eco chicks (nice guy Matt and douchebag Andy) accidentally set forth a course of action “rebirthing” the Leprechaun back and even more hellbent on finding that blasted pot of gold. Lila has to face the truth that her deceased mother WASN’T crazy about the diminutive monster in this very farmhouse and figure out how to defeat the Leprechaun once and for all before they all find themselves… out of luck.
There are so many sweet nods to the original like a reuse of the cat meowing trap and the return of Mark Holton as “Ozzie” (fans of the original will be happy to see his ear is still mangled) and for a relatively simple premise, the film is very well-shot. But what made me start texting horror nerd friends to keep an eye out for this sequel was how FUN the experience watching it was! LEPRECHAUN RETURNS found a happy medium between the ridiculousness of the In The Hood days and the investment of Origins while staying rooted to the simplicity of several people, in a house, no outside communication and there’s a freaking demented leprechaun after them. Plus the humor is pretty cute with a reference to “clover juice” being the new kale and copyright avoidant technology product names like “Funstagram”.
The pacing was great with fast dialogue and a kill every fifteen minutes but the real tip o’ the hat goes to Linden Porco (taking over for Warwick Davis) as the title character “Leprechaun”. Lines such as,
“Killing’s the key to my health and finding my wealth!”
delivered by Porco with such earnest glee was fantastic.
Eventually, every horror franchise returns to the beginning and I’m pretty down to see what end LEPRECHAUN RETURNS takes us to next in the series. Though I do suggest drinking while watching. I know I did (Meredith would be proud RIP). LEPRECHAUN RETURNS is now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD and includes special features such as featurettes, behind-the-scenes footage, and a still gallery.