Director: Mark Jones
Studios: Trimark Pictures
Starring: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston (I know), Ken Olandt, Robert Hy Gorman, Mark Holton
Tagline: Your luck just ran out.
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: horror, terror, fantasy, comedy, monster, folklore
Scare score: D-
Plot overview: After tricking a leprechaun (Davis) out of his gold, old Dan O’Grady (Shay Duffin) thinks his luck has changed. Little does he know that the malicious leprechaun has followed him back to his small home in California, stopping at nothing to get his gold back. After a deadly bout with the wicked creature, O’Grady locks the leprechaun in a crate in the basement, keeping it at bay with a four leaf clover, the leprechaun’s bane. Months later, J.D. Reding (John Sanderford) and his spoiled LA daughter Tory (Aniston) move into the abandoned O’Grady house, unaware of the evil trapped in the basement.
At the end of the day, this movie is what it is. Any horror movie based around a small creature that speaks in (FORCED) singsong rhymes, mixing too much “comedy” with otherwise frightening circumstances is definitely not a favorite movie of mine. Nor could you expect something like this to do too well at the box office, although Leprechaun has incredibly spawned a rather large franchise, including Leprechaun: Origins, set to release this August. Admittedly, I’ll still be at the theater.
One thing this movie does well (besides the fact that it locked down Jennifer Aniston as its star) is that it entertains. Yes, it’s stupid, colorful, and childish, but I surprised myself when I was able to sit through the whole thing without any problems. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give the movie a good rating even though I’m usually pretty lenient anyway.
Acting is better than what you might expect it to be like. A young Aniston, only one year before her Friends debut, is fresh if superficial, cast as the typical teenager Tory who would rather surround herself with the riches of Rodeo Drive but instead learns to kick some Irish butt in order to charm hunky handyman Nathan (Olandt). Olandt is your typical hunky good guy, shadowed around by mischievous kid brother Alex (Hy Gorman) and big bodied and small brained Ozzie (Holton) – think Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men. Ozzie is dumb and slow and entirely responsible for the film’s major dilemma first when he brushes aside the four leaf clover, unknowingly freeing the leprechaun, and then again when he accidentally swallows one of the leprechaun’s gold pieces. The implied scatological conundrum turns what would otherwise be a story a of a leprechaun reclaiming his gold into a feature film. Thanks for nothing, Ozzie.
Otherwise, the movie follows its course of events, somewhat reminiscent of a cat-and-mouse game between the magical leprechaun and the frightened young adults. As much as the leprechaun himself may be one of the more bizarre and frustrating characters in the horror genre, Warwick Davis absolutely commends a big nod as he makes this unique creature totally his own. I’m a big fan of Davis and his many and varied roles throughout film. Not surprisingly, he plays the rhyming, murderous leprechaun in his own fun and original way.
Final review: We’ve all heard of or at least seen some reference to the Leprechaun movies, and I shudder to say it’s the type of film people think of when they try to belittle the horror genre. Still, this first film sees the evil leprechaun long before he goes to space, or “2” the hood, or to any of the many direct-to-video sequels. Regardless, this film entertains, and why not give it a watch around St. Patrick’s Day? Jennifer Aniston should be reason enough.