PLOT: Four friends visit the scenic Irish countryside on a sightseeing tour. Unluckily for them, their latest stop is a town with a deadly secret: a vile creature with an appetite for tourists stalks the hills, and the locals may be lending it a helping hand.
REVIEW: As soon as LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS was finished, the prevailing thought in my mind was, Who exactly is this movie for? The reboot of the goofy franchise, which featured Warwick Davis as a ghoulish, wisecracking imp who traveled to Las Vegas, the hood and even outer space for his precious gold, has been produced by WWE Films as an apparent star vehicle for diminutive wrestler Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl, but neither fans of his exploits nor people who enjoy the previous films will find anything to like here. Appreciators of movies that don't insult your intelligence or are even the slightest bit entertaining aren't the target audience either.
The reboot, predictably, takes the "serious" route, pushing aside the self-aware jokes in lieu of a villain who is vicious, animalistic and without words (when we can actually see him, he resembles a hungry gargoyle). So anyone who returns to the franchise hoping for the same head-smacking one-liners will go wanting; ORIGINS stupefyingly thinks people want a dark and gritty Leprechaun movie. On the flip side, those tuning in for a peek at Hornswoggle's acting chops, or even to watch a Leprechaun attempt a bodyslam, will similarly be disappointed, as the creature make-up so consumes every part of the performer that we can't even tell it's him. The film goes to great lengths to keep the Leprechaun hidden for most of its running time, and when we finally do get a good look at him, he might as well be a puppet or - hopefully this isn't too offensive - a little stunt performer. There is absolutely zero reason in the world for Hornswoggle to be in this movie.
So what are we left with? A product that resembles any countless, boring Syfy channel originals, where a group of young people travel to a faraway country (usually Canada subbing for someplace else, in this case Ireland) and encounter an indistinguishable monster with a vague, uncompelling backstory. Here we have two college-aged couples with names you'll never remember who go backpacking through Ireland to look at some historical landmarks. They happen upon one of those shady villages where the locals immediately appear culpable in some ominous secret, but our oblivious protagonists decide to stick around and camp out in a godforsaken hut in the middle of nowhere. Soon enough, they're being hunted by a swift, menacing Leprechaun who really only cares about eating them. The whole "I wants me gold" bit is nowhere to be found; this Leprechaun is gobbling up unfortunate travelers served up to him by the townsfolk who stole his gold ages ago. I don't even know if the Leprechaun is aware of this or not; he's just some wild beast living in the woods ambushing whatever comes his way. Presumably the folks in the village could either just kill him or move away, but evidently these options aren't ever actually considered.
The Leprechaun's attacks are rushed and indecipherable; there is no chance to even get the most basic gorehound kicks from any of these scenes because director Zach Lipovsky has seemingly gone out of his way to make everything as dark and muddled as possible. Once in a while he'll throw in a few Leprechaun POV shots, which are just terrible. (Why does Leprechaun have Predator-vision, and how can he even see anything?) The showdown between our Final Girl (who we don't care about even a little bit) and the villain has all the excitement of a midnight trip to the outhouse. The one moment that recalls the original film (a victorious rendition of "F*ck you, lucky charms!") is just cynical panhandling, a last-ditch plea from the creative team for someone to forgive them for what they hath wrought. But forgiveness is beyond them.
So turns out LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS is made for no one in particular; "cynical" is the exact word I'd use to describe it. It's the very worst kind of cash-grab, a movie made simply because it has a recognizable title that can be exploited. Its producers hope you buy or rent it because you have an affection for the other Leprechaun flicks, but as soon as you press play they stomp all over your allegiance and deliver a most horrendously bland, indifferent, by-the-numbers piece of gloomy dreck. It's actually not easy to make me nostalgic for the original Leprechaun franchise, nor have I ever thought I'd even want to begin defending its meager legacy, but LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS has done the impossible: it makes those movies look good.