*. I (foolishly) went into Leprechaun: Origins with high hopes. After having them shattered by what was probably the worst Leprechaun movie to date (you might want to write it off as LINO, or Leprechaun In Name Only) I adjusted my expectations accordingly for Leprechaun Returns. Sure this wasn’t a WWE Studios production, but Syfy? Was that any better?
*. Well, maybe it’s because my expectations were so low but I really enjoyed Leprechaun Returns. It’s not exactly a sequel or a reboot, as it dismisses all of the previous Leprechaun movies except the first, which it follows up on directly, albeit twenty-five years later.
*. So now we have Lila Redding (Taylor Spreitler) the daughter of Tory Redding, returning to the house the Leprechaun had attacked in the original. As you will have guessed, he’s still down the well he had been sent into at the end of that movie. Just waiting to be revived.
*. Tory Redding had been played by Jennifer Aniston in the first movie. The producers tried to get Aniston to come back for at least a cameo here, but no dice. Warwick Davis also bowed out as the Leprechaun. Instead all they got was Mark Holton to return as Ozzie. Who comes to a messy end but at least has his moments of heroism.
*. Everything here works well enough. Linden Porco does a perfectly adequate job filling in for Davis as the Leprechaun. The comic bits, mostly revolving around Rip Van Winkle-style jokes about waking up twenty-five years later, are funnier than anything in the other movies. There are some good bits about the kids using cell phones to take selfies of themselves with the little guy. The Leprechaun marvels at their phones being both a camera and a Walkman, which leads to one of the kids asking “What’s a Walkman?” Also, as a connoisseur of fine footwear he tosses a pair of Crocs in the garbage, figuring it’s time to kill that fashion trend.
*. So there are some decent jokes. Not belly laughs, but as I’ve said before the series has never been as funny as I think it should have been and here it’s at least amusing. Also an improvement is the gore, including two really enjoyable kills (a postman having his head crushed in a mailbox and a doofus being sliced in two by a solar panel). There’s some stuff making use of a drone that doesn’t work that well, but those scenes are among the few misfires. And by the standards of most of what you see on the Syfy channel (just think of all those ghastly Sharknado movies) it all looks pretty darn good.
*. Even the basic plot is actually OK. A gang of young women are turning the old Redding place into an eco-friendly (and way, way off-campus) sorority house. They are described at one point as the nerdiest sorority ever but quite surprisingly they don’t all play as clichés and their defeat of the Leprechaun doesn’t turn into a tired statement of female empowerment. It’s just fun. In the words of director Steven Kostanski, “a goofy, ridiculous horror romp.”
*. So full credit to Kostanski (who also did The Void), writer Suzanne Keilly, and all the rest of the cast and crew. Sure we’re judging by really low standards, but this is one of the best Leprechaun movies, and one of the best Syfy channel movies I’ve seen. Colour me green, surprised, and entertained.