Review: LEPRECHAUN RETURNS Is The Best Entry In The Series In Over 20 Years
We’ve seen a lot of returns from long running horror franchises this year. Puppet Master saw a violent yet still wildly on brand new entry, Tremors is still chugging along, and we even had another Hellraiser flick. To top it all off, Halloween made a resounding return, boldly by ignoring every entry save for the first.
Hot damn, that’s exactly what Leprechaun Returns does and it’s pretty darn fantastic.
SyFy announced a new Leprechaun film a while back and despite the WWE’s best attempts at getting away from a diminutive horror in buckled boots, Hornswoggle’s creature feature was bold but didn’t stand out to horror fans and didn’t connect with fans of the original series. It was revealed it would be a return to form with a wise-cracking murderous folklore come to life and then they tapped some crazy talent. Suzanne Keilly, who had done some spectacular work on Ash vs Evil Dead, was attached to write and then they flashed a bright and shiny weapon with Steven Kostanski as director, the same wild auteur from film collective Astron 6 who did The Void.
I’m telling you now, it paid off in spades.
The movie does pretty much exactly what Halloween did and just ignores all the other entries of the Leprechaun series (in this case, that’s six more) and then doubles down on that. This doesn’t just bring back the traditional well-dressed, one line delivering magic murderer, it carries over continuity from the original Leprechaun, starring a pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston, that dropped in the way way back of 1993.
No, Aniston doesn’t show up, but the story does revolve around her in-storyline daughter Lila, played by Taylor Spreitler. Lila is headed to Devil’s Lake, the site of the original film, to meet her newly joined sorority sisters who are converting the very same house from the first film into a completely green sorority house. It’s ridiculous, overreaching and WHO CARES?! That fits so in line with nineties horror movies and that silly plot is exactly what I want from a Leprechaun movie.
So much about this movie will exceed expectations. First off, stepping into the shoes of Warwick Davis is a daunting task. Sure, it’s not exactly Willow but we’re talking about an actor who defined a role akin to Englund as Kreuger and that’s got to be terrifying. Linden Porco, who had just wrapped up more genre work with Channel Zero: The Dream Door, proves he is more than up to the challenge. Although the makeup doesn’t quite capture that same practical magic of Warwick, everything else about Porco’s performance is outstanding. He delivers the one liners with malicious joy, his wily laugh is tilting and nearly tips into ‘annoying’ territory but Porco reins it in, and he manages to balance that line of creepy creature and fantastical foe with a near perfect form.
For being on Syfy, Kostanski doesn’t pull any punches with the kills. We get some truly fun set pieces here, including a solar panel splicing a man in half, and some gore busting blade and bludgeon murders. Hell, the very first kill is full effect body horror, and is immediately met with some witticisms from the leprechaun and you slide right back into the series that you grew to love twenty years ago. Again, akin to Halloween, the nods to the first film are frequent but never alienating. It’s a lot of fun to travel back and expand that mythology created in the first movie. Plus, if you’ve seen the trailer, you know that Mark Holton returns as Ozzie and his character has a turn that ends up being one of the smartest moves the filmmakers could have made.
Spreitler is great as well. She’s a likable final girl that, in spite of a sheltered upbringing, is able to hold her own. She’s affable and charming, but rises to the occasion and by the end of Leprechaun Returns you’ll be rooting for another entry, not just for our title killer but for our newest solid final girl. The supporting cast all do their job, either providing themselves as detestable fodder to get fed to the magic murders or allowing you to enjoy them just enough that it hurts when they kick the bucket.
I don’t want to pull the wool over your eyes and declare Leprechaun Returns a masterpiece. It’s not and I know that. However, it’s some of the most fun you will have with a horror movie this year. It’s well worth searching out, whether it’s finding it on Syfy or renting in from the numerous VOD providers, Kostanski and crew present a bloody, thoroughly enjoyable creature feature and return to one of our favorite camp entries of the genre. It says it right there in the title, folks, this is the best Leprechaun movie in over twenty years and if we get a little luck of the Irish, we’ll get some more.