Thoughts on “The Leprechaun Returns”

“The Leprechaun Returns” is a SyFy Channel made movie continuing the, uh, probably classic horror series of “The Leprechaun”. Which is a series that I’ve never seen and, in fact, don’t actually own any of. So as this movie is a continuation I come into this a bit behind the 8-ball, as I don’t know anything about any of the previous events and so will miss a number of the references in it. However, the flaws in this movie have nothing to do with that, as I was able to follow the plot, such as it was, pretty well and the movie didn’t seem to stop that often for exposition explaining the background, or at least not in a way that I found boring. No, the flaws in this movie come entirely from what it does or, rather, doesn’t do with its premise.

A horror movie where the main protagonist is a short, wise-cracking, Irish-accented leprechaun is not going to be able to pull off simple physical gore/slashing. The leprechaun just isn’t going to seem like a physical threat even if it actually is one (the leprechaun is indeed surprisingly strong and so often immune to physical assault). In a sense, leprechauns work the same way as genies do: while you probably could, if you tried hard enough, make them purely a physical threat at a minimum most people will be disappointed if you aren’t doing something like perverting wishes. For leprechauns, what you’d be after are tricks and traps, not simple slasher deaths.

To its credit, the movie seems to somewhat try for this. However, this all gets trumped by its main focus, which is on horror through excessive gore. So any kind of cleverness of the traps is subordinated to making the scenes as gory as possible. The problem is that while the scenes are indeed over-the-top gory, they aren’t so over-the-top gory as to shock just with that, and in their execution come across less as “Ugh, that gore!” and more like “You’re trying too hard!”. And since the traps and tricks aren’t that creative — the best one is probably when the leprechaun gets one of the victims to betray her friends with a promise to “Not lay a hand on her” which he then subverts in the obvious way — what we get are medicore tricks and traps that seem intended more to produce gore than to seem clever or darkly humourous.

The movie also tries to play the sex angle a bit, with one of the girls in a very skimpy outfit and at least two sex scenes in a sub-plot that exists for no other reason than to produce those scenes. But it’s also too rare to make the movie be an exploitation type movie, so it again seems tacked on.

The sad thing is that the movie is at its best when it’s trying to subvert the horror genre tropes. The main character is appealing and works best when she mostly inadvertently tries to act according to at least the heroic forms of the tropes when in reality it makes no sense. There are two big scenes of this, and they’re the best moments in the movie. First, she talks about taking down the leprechaun and starts to walk away heroically, only to be called back by her friends because she hasn’t actually told them the plan (and she lampshades that it seemed appropriately dramatic but doesn’t really make sense) and at the end her and the last survivor are met by the cop watching the house burn and try to limp away from the car when her friend says that medical attention is required and so walking away isn’t a good idea, which she concedes. The actress is really good at that sort of thing and can pull that off without simply looking like an idiot, and so those scenes really work.

If the movie had made itself into a parody/subversion of the horror genre, it could have worked really well. As it stands, however, its a mediocre at best movie with some good scenes. I can’t imagine watching this one again, not because its terrible, but because there’s really nothing interesting about it, good or bad, to drive a rewatch.


5 Responses to “Thoughts on “The Leprechaun Returns””

  1. The Mystery of the Horrible Hound | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] that uses this sort of structure is the “Leprechaun” series, and one of the reasons “The Leprechain Returns” fails is because it fails at that, as a leprechaun killing people should do so in a creative or […]

  2. Thoughts on “Leprechaun” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] last fall I watched a SyFy Channel continuation of the “Leprechaun” series. A few months later, I found a set of eight movies in the series for a reasonable price, and decided […]

  3. Thoughts on “Leprechaun 4: In Space” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] commented on the last movie in the series (which I watched first) that it would have worked better as a subversion/parody than as a somewhat serious horror movie, as […]

  4. Thoughts on “Leprechaun: Origins” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] since I have already looked at “Returns”, “Leprechaun: Origins” is the last of the eight “Leprechaun” movies to look […]

  5. Final Thoughts on the “Leprechaun” Series | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] best movies are the first one and the last one, its direct sequel. They take the premise lightly, but slip in lots of humour to turn it into more of a horror/comedy […]

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