Director: Zach Lipovsky
Screenplay: Harris Wilkinson
Starring: Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh, Brendan Fletcher
Running Time: 86 mins
BBFC Classification: 18
Two young couples are dropped off by a truck driver somewhere in rural Ireland (actually British Columbia, but we won’t hold that against the filmmakers), and then start backpacking through some woods. They find some strange rune carved stones and push on until they come across a small town. They meet a strange older man, Hamish, in the pub who suggests that he take them to see some off the beaten track place which is beautiful but few tourists get to see. When they should have said: ‘Err, not today thank you’, they instead go along with him since one of them, Sophie, is a history student, who wants to see the place that Hamish describes as ‘the origin of Celtic civilization’. Apparently this site of archaeological interest is several hours drive away (which could be less than 100 miles in the actual Ireland, from what I remember of the stone chip roads there), hence Hamish suggests they overnight at his place.
The four Americans are then driven out to an old lodge in the middle of nowhere, which is not far from where the old man and his son, Shaun, live. As the two couples settle down for the evening they soon wonder why there are more locks on the outside of the doors than on the inside – as if to keep something in. And that something soon turns out to be them, as not long into their stay they become prisoners of the Irish family, who make sacrifices from time to time to a nasty goblin-like creature called a Leprechaun, a creature that obviously forgot to read the Leprechaun manual about how to dress and how to act the part. A mischievous nature turns to murderous, just as a green tunic turns into naked with a diseased looking grey skin tone!
The youngsters soon realise what they’re up against and try to escape, but the local community have other ideas since they’d rather save their own hides and let strangers die on their behalf. There follows some fairly tense scuttling around in the undergrowth and some fairly unpleasant gore.
Obviously made with reasonable production values, Leprechaun: Origins is a real about-turn from the earlier Leprechaun films that featured the vertically-challenged actor Warwick Davies; a series of movies that tended to be played more for grisly laughs than for out and out shock value. The Leprechaun design itself is more like a ghoul than the traditional joker sort of figure that we’re used to seeing and is therefore far more unpleasant to behold. And the filmmakers wisely keep their creature in the shadows for the most part to ramp up our fear of the unknown.
The main American characters are all fairly normal, for a horror film anyway, and although they do make some bad choices they also more often do the right thing, which makes for a refreshing change. The acting is pretty good, although I wasn’t convinced by the rather dubious Irish accents – to be sure!
The film is, for the most part, well shot, although the cinemaphotographer and/or editor made some strange choices involves some blurring effects, which makes it look like there is Vaseline on the lens a few times. I also wasn’t fond of some of the shaky-cam shots, but that’s a general bugbear of mine anyway.
While the film won’t win many prizes for originality it does at least deliver a fun 80 minutes or so of fake Irish mayhem and it had one of the best final lines in a film ever, when one of our heroines shouts: “Fuck you and your lucky charms!”
Leprechaun: Origins has recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray and is being distributed by Lionsgate. Special features on the disc consist of trailers for other WWE Studio releases and two short featurettes, these being:
Leprechaun: An icon reborn (6 mins) This is basically a general EPK type of mini-doc that mainly features talking heads stuff. Of interest are the special effects technicians showing us how the Leprechaun was created – basically a dwarf in a very sophisticated suit.
Leprechaun: Behind the Blood (5 mins) More SFX stuff where the special effects guys talk us through the various gore gags seen throughout the film; interesting stuff.