DVD Review: Leprechaun: Origins (2014)

Leprechaun: Origins DVD CoverDistributor: Lionsgate

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Zach Lipovsky

Starring: Dylan Postl, Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh, Brendan Fletcher, Garry Chalk

The Leprechaun films have gathered something of a following over the last 20-odd years, despite – or more likely, because of – their sheer ludicrousness. Most of this is down to the actor who plays the lead role in all of them, Warwick Davis, whose name gets plastered all over the posters and DVD covers and whose charismatic performances are the only real reason to watch them. In Leprechaun: Origins Davis has been replaced by WWE star Dylan ‘Hornswoggle’ Postl, whose name is also all over the posters and DVD cover but, unlike with Davis’ films, that doesn’t mean very much as outside of WWE nobody knows who Postl is and we don’t know what we’re going to get.

The funny thing is – and it really is the only funny thing about this film – that after watching Leprechaun: Origins you’ll still have no idea who Postl is and what he can actually do because the makers of this film have decided to dump the comedic aspects of the previous films and make Leprechaun: Origins a deadly serious horror film, and in doing so they’ve robbed the franchise of its only saving grace and that is the character of the Leprechaun itself. Not that filmmakers should be trading in on past glories but the original series gave us a villain we could recognise – an icon, if you will – and, if not the best screenplays ever written, at least each film told a story. Here, the story is the same old ‘teenagers visit a strange town and get set up by the locals’ thing that we have seen in hundreds of horror movies from the likes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Friday the 13th through to more up-to-date examples like Wrong Turn and House of 1000 Corpses, but each of those films brought a new twist to the familiar plot and introduced characters that viewing audiences got behind – Leprechaun: Origins has a growling monster that looks a little bit like one of the creatures from The Descent but we can’t really tell as there aren’t any full body shots and whenever there’s a close-up of it’s face the camera decides to start shaking or go out of focus, and in true Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem-style all of the action is shot in total darkness so you can’t see how glorious the special effects are (or maybe you’re not meant to?).

So as you’ve probably gathered, the plot involves four young Amercian tourists on a holiday in Ireland (or Canada pretending to be Ireland) who stumble into an old village where one of the locals talks them into visiting a local relic that you cannot find in the tourist guides. After taking up the offer of shelter in a remote cabin the four friends discover they have been locked in and are being offered up as a sacrifice to a deadly leprechaun that is holding the village to ransom over a grudge that came about because the villagers took the creature’s gold.

And after a fairly promising setup – well, promising in that it gets down to things straight away and the actors aren’t too annoying – things take a turn for the generic as it becomes chase-hide-chase-hide right up until the underwhelming ending – no wit, no plot twists (but plenty of holes) and no actual origin story as the creature’s appearance is explained through exposition when one of the characters reads about leprechauns in a book, so we don’t really get the leprechaun or the origins that the title promises.

So let’s take away the Warwick Davis films and look at Leprechaun: Origins on its own merits. Like a lot of films produced by WWE Studios it looks pretty good – especially the photography during the opening credits (and I defy you not to hum the theme tune to Father Ted) – and everybody involved seems to be doing their best to make it work. Unfortunately, some decent camera angles and a lot of goodwill will only get you so far and Leprechaun: Origins just does not deliver anything that you can’t get elsewhere in better films. The gore scenes are too dark and edited to the point where you see very little, the script is none-too-clever (“Did he just call me a Nancy Boy?”), the pacing is totally off and the film basically grinds to a halt after the first attack, we get “Leprechaun Vision” which proves to be rather purposeless (although it does reveal more of what is going on than the regular visuals) and – and it really is worth repeating because it’s the biggest downfall of the film – the titular character is totally nondescript and could be any generic creature. Really – what was the point of it all?

Leprechaun: Origins

Special Features: Leprechaun: An Icon Reborn featurette, Leprechaun: Behind the Blood featurette.

UK Release Date: 6th October 2014

Lionsgate UK – Website
WWE Studios – Website

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