You can divide the world up into two camps; those that know English actor Warwick Davis as Willow, Wicket and best of all the Leprechaun and those that know him as Ricky Gervais‘s mate who was in Harry Potter.
This division will drastically alter your preconceptions of the brand new Leprechaun reboot epically entitled Leprechaun: Origins brought about by WWE Studios and staring the wrestler Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl which following on from See No Evil 1 & 2 sees the bulging biceps of the wrestling brand tearing into horror movie making.
Before delving deeper into Leprechaun: Origins for those unfamiliar with the original Leprechaun series it featured aforementioned Warwick Davis as the titular character and ran from 1993 to 2003 racking up 6 movies in all.
Small in stature but filled with evil and driven by a lust for gold to kill and maim while delivering rhyming couplets the films where comedy horror’s high on camp and gimmicks with Davis channeling Robert Englund’s Freddy while fighting off tons of teens including Jennifer Aniston to get back his pot o’ gold.
With 3 standard sequels part 4 saw the Leprechaun in Space after a spoof Apollo 13 poster with Davis’s head over Tom Hank’s made as a joke in the film companies office amazingly ended up getting the movie a green light even though there was no script. Parts 5 and 6 took the Leprechaun to the Hood combining clumsy culture shock comedy and bad rap jokes in a duo of films one of which I am sure Ice-T would love to forget ever happened.
With all this in mind it is easy to see firstly why a reboot is necessary and secondly how it could all go terribly wrong. Thankfully director Zach Lipovsky and screenwriter Harris Wilkinson have not only acknowledged all the issues of the original series but avoided repeating any of the same mistakes trying their hardest to do the one thing the original films always failed to do which is actually scare audiences.
Leprechaun: Origins sees backpacking buddies Sophie, Ben, Jeni and David (Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh and Brendan Fletcher respectively) in the green hills of Ireland dropped off in the middle of nowhere by a nervous farmer who is fearful of venturing past some sacred stones they see in the middle of a field.
Dropping into the local pub for a pint of the black stuff local character Hamish (Garry Chalk) overhears their loud American conversation and learning they are yearning for some adventure tells them about an ancient site of stone sculptures older than anything else on the emerald isle.
Eager for one last exploration before they head home to their humdrum college lives they take Hamish up on his offer and head out to spend the night in a shack from which they will make the long trek from the next day. But all is not what it seems and as the foursome settle in for a fun night something outside watches them drawn to the house by gold and waiting to get in and tear them apart to get to it.
Although the casting of wrestler Dylan Postl, whose character Hornswoggle ticks every cliché in the racial stereotype book when it comes to Irish culture, may look like this reboot was just a rehash of Warwick Davis comedy horror Leprechaun persona the film takes a much more serious slant on the characters look and history making it into a monster from ancient folklore more akin to Gollum or the creatures from The Descent than something seen at a St Patrick’s day parade.
Well realized with some excellent effects and make up ingeniously we barely see the leprechaun till very near the end increasing the threat and fear the creature creates which added to the fact the characters themselves find the situation they are in ridiculous and say so too is by far the best way to accentuate the terror the film tries to create.
This smart shift from the original added to the story setup which is reminiscent of The Shrine or Nothing Left to Fear gives the film much more weight especially when it comes to the tense scenes and the jumps and scares which there are plenty of.
Okay so Leprechaun: Origins isn’t the most original horror and the location only vaguely looks like Ireland if you squint and the weird Predator POV that we see when the beast strikes is slightly jarring but on the whole as reboots go it’s far from the worst and massive credit must be paid to everyone involved for at least trying to turn a horror villain we loved to laugh at into something that makes us scream.