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Awfully Good: Leprechaun Returns

Every time I think I've run out of LEPRECHAUN movies to do for this column, St. Patrick blesses us with one more…

 

Leprechaun Returns (2018)

 

Director: Steven Kostanski
Stars: Linden Porco, Taylor Spreitler, Mark Holton

Jennifer Aniston's daughter returns to her mom's hometown for college and accidentally moves in to the same farmhouse-turned-sorority house plagued by an evil leprechaun.

HALLOWEEN isn't the only longstanding horror franchise that recently got a reboot-quel that follows the family of the main character and ignores all previous lesser sequels. That's right, everyone's favorite leprechaun returns in...er, LEPRECHAUN RETURNS, a direct follow-up to the original 1993 movie that starred a young Jennifer Aniston.

Leprechaun Returns selfie
I have no doubt this would happen in real life.

Obviously, Aniston was not going to come back for this (although there's a very convincing voice cameo by a different actress at one point), so her character is written off as recently dead, having suffered from lifelong trauma and perceived mental illness following the events of the first film. Instead, the movie follows her daughter Lila as she heads of to college and joins a sorority. Of course, said sorority house is actually the farm house where the original movie took place, which her newfound sisters are fixing up in to an eco-friendly millennial compound. And naturally this means that they accidentally disturb the well where the Leprechaun was trapped at the end of the first film. It doesn't take a whole lot of Irish luck to correctly guess what happens next.

Leprechaun Returns
Even the title character is surprised this franchise is still going.

I honestly never thought I needed another entry in this franchise, but LEPRECHAUN RETURNS is an unapologetic blast. I'll always have a soft spot for the exceedingly terrible sequels that saw the title character fight cyborgs in space and take multiple trips to "tha hood," but this is a great return to form for the series. Director Steven Kostanski (THE VOID, ABC'S OF DEATH) tries quite hard to make a modern version of this story while still hitting the same tongue-in-cheek tone as the original and it mostly succeeds. The movie is silly in spots (instead of a tricycle, this time the Lep rides a drone!), but it also has some legit scares and gnarly kills. There's tons of a splatter and gore—decapitations, impalements, crushed heads, exploded heads, even the title character bursting from someone's chest ala ALIEN—and it's pretty much all done practically. At one point, I was cringing from watching a guy get sliced in half and then immediately laughing when a character asks, "Do you think he's dead?"

Leprechaun Returns kill
How SPLIT should have ended.

Contrary to what you'd expect from a movie like this, the writing is actually quite sharp, with a script from ASH VS EVIL DEAD writer Suzanne Keilly. In a fun twist, the four main girls are smart and capable, using their skills and scientific knowledge to come up with fairly viable plans (as far as horror movies go) to try and stop the villain. I almost spit out my beer when they were lost in the woods and someone pulled out their phone to use an astronomy app to find the North Star. It's a nice change of pace and makes the characters all pretty likable, even if everyone's first instinct is to take a selfie with the leprechaun.

The movie is also just chock full of great lines. The Leprechaun's rhymes are as painfully punny as ever, but the human characters get some solid one-liners as well, including a worthy follow-up to the original's classic line: "Fuck you, Lucky Charms!" After the leprechaun offers up his hundredth poetic taunt, a girl responds with her own: "I've got a limerick for you: EAT A DICK, ASS BAGGINS."

Leprechaun Returns tampon
Confusing the bad guy with a tampon needs to become a new horror movie trope.

The young cast does well with the material as it bounces back and forth between horror and comedy. And while you may not get Jennifer Aniston back, the film is graced with the return of Ozzie, the dimwitted friend who swallowed a piece of gold and incurred the Leprechaun's wrath in the first movie. Much like Laurie Strode, Ozzie has become a survivor in the years since, and it's great to see Mark Holton (TEEN WOLF, PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE) back in his brief, and dare I say touching, supporting role.

But this movie isn't called OZZIE AND THE SORORITY SISTERS. It's called LEPRECHAUN RETURNS and everyone is clearly here for the title character. Actor Linden Porco takes the reins from Warwick Davis, who retired from the horror genre after having kids. Those are some big pointy shoes to fill—even at the franchise's worst, Davis was still great—but Porco is up to the task. The heavy makeup doesn't do him any favors, but he has the voice, the laugh, the silly/scary demeanor, and the right physicality for the role. And it's still the same ol' Lep you know and love. He still speaks in macabre limericks, is still super sexist, and is still obsessed with finding gold and polishing shoes. (Except Crocs; there's still clearly a limit, even for psychopathic Celtic trolls.) I don't know if anyone could ever truly replace Warwick Davis, but if they make more of these, the character is in good hands.

Leprechaun Returns car
When your friend eats at the Indian buffet and then sits in the middle.

While it doesn't really push the series in to any new territory, LEPRECHAUN RETURNS still manages to be entertaining and a loving homage to the original, quite an impressive feat after being derailed by a number of silly sequels. If you were ever a fan of this franchise, this is a pile of gold. Or at the very least a million times better than LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS.

Leprechaun Returns middle finger
Seriously, LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS can burn in hell.

No naked leprechauns. Sorry.


LEPRECHAUN RETURNS will air on SyFy on St. Patrick's Day! Or you can buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • The leprechaun rhymes
  • The leprechaun is sexist
  • The leprechaun stops to fix shoes
  • The leprechaun talks directly to the camera
  • Someone easily knocks down the leprechaun

Double shot if:

  • Someone takes a selfie with the leprechaun

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com

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