by Bethany Rose
How’s this for a plot synopsis: Group of friends travel to Ireland in search of a little history and a lot of fun. What they discover is a village secret that could literally rip them apart. Not bad, right? Sure, it seems like it might include its fair share of horror tropes, but overall, it has potential to be a gory delight set against the beautiful backdrop of Ireland. But there’s a problem more troublesome than just falling into cliches. The problem is that Leprechaun: Origins is a freestanding horror film that’s anything but a freestanding horror film; instead, this film is supposed to be an origin story for the leprechaun that was delightfully played by Warwick Davis for six films.
While watching the film, I had one question, a question that repeated itself all the way through the ending of the credits (Helpful Hint: Unless you always watch the credits through to the end, there’s no need to finish watching these. I promise nothing happens. Promise.) was a resounding, “Why!?” Prior to its release, I’d heard a mixture of theories regarding this film’s connection to the previous installments. The clearest answer I could piece together was that it would have little to do with the other films, with the exception of the villain being a leprechaun, but that audiences should perhaps see the potential for this film to be an origin to Davis’ interpretation of the leprechaun. Clearly things only got more confusing the more I searched for answers.
So I had no choice but to watch the film, fueled by the same curiosity that prompted its main characters to explore a remote section of an Irish village merely at the suggestion of a kindly pub patron. I’m not sure who made the worse decision. I’ve defended sequels here before, most notably putting a sequel in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series higher than the original. And I am not opposed to reboots, or prequels, or sequels that stray from the source material (stay tuned for my ranking of the Halloween franchise of films for proof). I even like some of the WWE Studios films (Christmas Bounty definitely isn’t a bad made-for-TV holiday film). But it certainly felt like the only reason this film tried to connect itself to the original Leprechaun series was to capitalize off of its cult status success.
The film stars Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl as the titular creature. Seeing another actor fill Davis’ gold buckled shoes was not quite as difficult as seeing someone besides Robert Englund portray Freddy Krueger. That’s not to say that this version of the leprechaun is better, or that Postl’s acting is superior to Davis’. What makes the transition a bit easier to accept is that the leprechauns are two totally different creatures. Davis’ leprechaun is a fun balance of mischievous evil and humor. He seized the opportunity to create a larger-than-life character, understood that there was indeed something a bit silly about the character, and also understood that no matter how silly, nobody really wants to be on the leprechaun’s bad side. So his performance could have you switch from laughing to covering your eyes faster than you could say “Me gold!” Postl’s creature doesn’t speak; instead, he snarls and growls and feels like a more organic creature, something that sprang out of the mud, mixed with some rocks, and grew some nasty jaws in the process. It could certainly be argued that Davis’ appearance as the leprechaun fits into more cliched ideas of what a scary leprechaun would look like, and in that case there is perhaps something to be said for this new look.
Still, the longer I watched, the more I wondered why it needed to be a “new” Leprechaun film. As a stand-alone horror film, it would have been a fun watch. In fact, as much as it deviated from the tone of the original films (or perhaps exactly because it did deviate from them so much), I was actually warming up to the idea of considering it a prequel/reboot of the series. I figured that if it was going to take the series in a different direction, at least it went all out in doing so. That is until the end. I can’t say too much. My number one rule as a critic is to never give away too much, especially not the ending. But I will say that near the end there was a clear attempt to connect this film with the original, and that attempt immediately threw out any goodwill I had for Leprechaun: Origins.
The best way I can summarize the film has already been done for me. Thanks to a sly and anonymous poster on IMDb, who somehow managed to post this delightful “review” in the Goofs section of the film’s page, “Leprechaun: Origins was accidentally released for public viewing in 2014 [.] This mistake has yet to be fixed.”