There’s no doubt in my mind that Leprechaun: Origins will go down as 2014’s most insulting horror movie, and no, I don’t mean “insulting” in terms of gratuitous violence, blatant misogyny or any other true offenses. Instead, Zach Lipovsky’s carbon-copy creature feature is a slap in the face to horror fans everywhere, promising the rise of WWE star Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl as one of horror’s most recognizable franchise faces.
Every ounce of Warwick Davis’ enigmatic portrayal is stripped in favor of a crude, costumed monster without any humanistic traits, ignoring EVERYTHING that makes the original Leprechaun movies watchable – fully admitting a few sequels are proper shite. Despite quality, Davis’ gold-seeking psycho always keeps us engaged with a plethora of B-Movie zingers and goofy actions, but Postl’s faceless nature doesn’t permit for a repeat experience. Leprechaun: Origins is a walking, talking, Celtic cliché, feeling like a straight rip-off of last year’s SyFy abomination Red Clover (Leprechaun’s Revenge). Yeah, when I accuse you of ripping off a Billy Zane vessel, you KNOW something is desperately wrong.
First time writer Harris Wilkinson starts things off by introducing two backpacking couples who seek a bit of an Irish adventure. After a local man offers the tourists a cabin for the night, these foreigners learn that one of Ireland’s scariest urban legends is actually a vicious reality, and they’re left to fight off the advances of a greedy Leprechaun until daybreak. That’s it. A cabin in the woods, some unsuspecting victims, an evil villain, and a bunch of Irish accents that become inaudible after too many scenes – sound familiar?
Had WWE not tied Leprechaun: Origins to the original franchise, I might be a smidge more forgiving. By recalling the Warwick Davis character, certain expectations are put forward, and not a single one is met by Wilkinson or Lipovsky. I’m not saying tonal shifts are a detractor from any franchise, as Don Mancini shifted from straight horror to black comedy with Bride Of Chucky, but success was found because Mancini focused on existing core competencies. WWE’s first mistake came when Davis’ Leprechaun was crumpled up and thrown away, and Postl’s generic, bland creature suit became the Leprechaun of the future. Postl has no lines besides growling, doesn’t wear a hilarious green suit and most certainly doesn’t crack any witty jokes about gold or clovers. Postl’s work is forgettable, and that’s only because he wasn’t given a character in the least – anyone could have been under that makeup and the same insignificant performance would have been achieved.
Then again, Leprechaun: Origins is DOA mostly thanks to an atrocious screenplay that never once ventures outside the safety of repetition. Not a single new idea manages to be found at the end of such a depressing rainbow, becoming nothing but child’s play as far as quality is concerned. I can’t imagine Wilkinson has ever seen a horror move in his life, structuring a generic slasher without any surprises, or at least I want to believe so for Wilkinson’s sake. Weirdly self-referential bashing sometimes makes us believe Lipovsky and Wilkinson are in on a grander joke, foreshadowing their character’s own stupidity, but this genre-praising tone only appears for mere seconds, and isn’t confident enough to create a schlocky B-Movie feel. Leprechaun: Origins is a “What Not To Do” example of epic proportions, because not even in my wildest dreams could I expect such a sensationless horror experience be created on purpose.
In all fairness, there’s a rotating carousel of blame to be pointed out, as Lipovski himself doesn’t do a damned thing to salvage Wilkinson’s St. Patty’s Day inspired, paint-by-numbers screenplay, miraculously finding visually unappealing ways to deliver scenes without any resemblances of horror. Easiest to point out are blurry camera tricks that hide Postl’s costume, as I’m sure you could see a giant zipper if Lipovski’s Leprechaun were shown without being hidden. All this proves is a lack of confidence in the film’s antagonist, like the filmmaker figured he’d cut his losses and hope audiences never wanted an uninterrupted monster reveal. Oh, and what’s up with the Leprechaun’s Predator mode? Whenever characters attempt to flee the clutches of this pint-sized pest, we enter a first-person camera mode that only detects heat – another confusing inclusion that distances Leprechaun: Origins even farther from the Warwick-Davis-starring superiority. Lipovski struggles mightily with capable pacing, proper shot construction and fresh thinking, creating a watch that simply runs through the motions without even the slightest notion of excitement. It’s almost as if the entire crew found themselves locked on set and couldn’t leave until the final scene wrapped, so everyone rushed through production with the end-goal being a “horror movie” in the broadest sense of such a term.
Throwing another dart at the “Blame Board,” you’ll either find yourself suffering through characters who mumble Irish jargon that could have benefitted from subtitling, or watch in awe as a group of “friends” show absolutely no respect for each other’s lives. Brendan Fletcher’s character David has his leg slashed open early on, obviously providing a serious obstacle when running from the Leprechaun, yet not a single one of his friends ever tries to aid in his escape. A silly lack of emotionality is shown while David limps behind three able-bodied friends who could easily carry him, but no, that’d be asking too much from characters who can barely muster a non-groan-worthy conversation while an angry dwarf in a bad Halloween costume bangs on their door. In comparison, poor acting becomes the least of Lipovski’s worries, but once again, such a deterrent can’t be ignored. Without being able to muster a single shred of sympathy for any character, including a sexy historian who becomes Lipovski’s survivor girl, these boneheaded victims rank with horror’s worst stereotypes, devolving into one of many problems that prevent this latest Leprechaun adventure from resembling anything reminiscent of a fun-fueled watch.
Leprechaun: Origins should be locked away and forgotten forever, possibly haunted by a curse so if any bumbling idiots accidentally uncover its existence, they’re removed from the Earth along with their newfound knowledge. It doesn’t matter how big a Dylan Postl fan you are, because Hornswoggle doesn’t exist in Lipovski’s film – just some muffled, joke of a beast that doesn’t intimidate in the least. It’s with full confidence I proclaim that if Postl’s Leprechaun ever made an advance on me, I’d kick the tiny bastard in the face and walk away unscathed. Sounds frightening, right? Honestly, the scariest bit of Lipovski’s vision is how blatantly stolen most scenes feel, be it the “long grass” scene from Jurassic Park: The Lost World or detailed costume rips from Red Clover, but what else do you expect from an unintelligible cash-in short on reveals, lacking on death scenes, and heavy on infuriating redundancy? Why, a Lucky Charms joke, of course! Yup.
Here’s to hoping this curse is buried for good, never again able to disappoint fans of horror, Leprechauns or the WWE.
Leprechaun: Origins isn't just bad - it's downright insulting. Lipovski's film is nothing but a series of bad choices, worse execution and infuriating redundancy, highlighting the ugliness that comes along with exploiting horror instead of respecting it.