Even though you’re probably searching for redemption after last year’s disastrous reboot of the Leprechaun franchise, don’t assume Gnome Alone will provide the cheeky pint-sized fun that Dylan Postl and company failed to deliver. Copying the Celtic horror franchise almost verbatim, directors Timothy Woodward Jr. and John Michael Elfers enlist Mini-Me himself to play a pervy little gnome who lusts for blood and timely death-related zingers (sound familiar?).
Unfortunately, there’s no horror to be found as Verne Troyer hobbles around dressed like an angry lawn ornament, barely standing up to your kneecap, but a few genuine laughs are available for those who love a good tongue-in-cheek death scene oozing with B-Movie antics. It’s certainly nowhere near as horrid as Leprechaun: Origins, but then again, that’s like comparing apples to rotting, festering oranges covered in mold, flies, and shit – ANYTHING would be better. Well, Gnome Alone is your ANYTHING.
The legend of Troyer’s gnome begins a long, long time ago, spawned when a deceiving witch steals a leprechaun’s treasure. After the leprechaun hatches his own plan of revenge, the witch is marked with a scathing physical marking, but she turns the scar into a protective symbol through her own magic. Using her dark powers, she summons a murderous gnome to grant the nastiest wishes of whoever carries the brand, as the “curse” is passed over once the previous owner dies. Fast forwarding through a number of generations, Gnome Alone picks up as the newest victim, Zoe (Kerry Knuppe), struggles to comprehend why all her enemies start turning up dead, and why a creepy little creature is haunting her every move.
Let me clarify this now – Gnome Alone is a real movie, and not something produced from the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind after dropping unhealthy amounts of acid. You’ll see things, horrible things, that will take you to places you never wanted to venture – and I’m not talking about solid creature scares. No. I’m talking about super-awkward scenes of gnome rape that echo through your very being, forcing you to watch a costumed Verne Troyer molest a young actress for entirely too long.
It’s a thing of nightmares and uncomfortable filmmaking, stretching a funny concept into something that becomes irksome, unnerving, and downright disgusting, losing all the fun of B-Movie horror in a childish fit of poorly executed “exploitation” crafting. Gnome Alone makes use of its “R” rating whenever it can, exposing a host of young female chests whether they’re covered in ancient mud, tied to a bed, or dangling from a stripper pole – much like a pre-teen boy who just found his first Playboy magazine.
The writers of Gnome Alone don’t limit juvenile tendencies to nudity alone, creating a fraternal world that appears to be molded by people who detest the very existence of Greek life. Between every frat brother being a piggish misogynist, drinking-and-driving stupidity, ultimate douchebaggery, and worst of all, insufficient party planning, once again we’re barraged by college stereotypes who we’re trained to hate. According to Gnome Alone, all college fraternity houses have a secret sex dungeon packed to the brim with gelatinous dildos and electrically-charged jumper cables, where they keep females hostage and force their sick sexual fantasies on them. It’s an all-too-easy mockery to make, and one I’m becoming more frustrated with as each “bro” exchange shines an increasingly uncomfortable light on cartoonish alpha-males.
Then again, this is Gnome Alone – you’re not tuning in for a poignant social commentary on America’s handling of “No means no” (although it’d be nice to see topics handled with a little subtlety). Focusing only on Troyer’s gnome, we witness a complete transformation thanks to grimy makeup and a funny little costume that brings a playful personality to the dentally-impaired villain.
The kills are gory – one of which involves an actual garden gnome – but do carry a cheapness about them due to a few technical quirks that could have been masked by more experienced filmmakers. In an early kill, one of the victims spews internal organs with his last few breaths, but the device pumping the fake guts is all-too-obvious thanks to Woodward Jr. and Elfers’ positioning of the dying man’s head. There’s no doubt a little fun can be found, highlighted by Troyer pressing on a 18-rack of Modelo in order to drive a car, but not even sexy teacher makeout sessions and a cackling Verne Troyer can mask some expectedly poor performances and flimsy executing that rarely finds itself making use of the one-note-gnome gimmick.
Gnome Alone is a comical concept that comes with a hopeful cult appeal, but Troyer lacks the whimsical charisma that Warwick Davis once found playing a vertically-challenged killer. Mini-Me’s conjured form is far too goofy to be menacing, yet drawn-out jokes and a lack of imaginative one-liners also don’t find much comedy despite the obviously hilarious situation.
Gnome Alone is something akin to an Evil Bong or Gingerdead Man sequel (yeah, I’ve seen multiple of both), trying to scrape every last morsel of a seemingly ingenious genre idea like it’s an almost empty pint of ice cream. Gnome Alone is a valiant attempt at midnight-movie gold, earning points simply by casting Verne Troyer, but the idea’s longevity simply can’t be sustained by a jumbled production that weighs too heavily on the weak, tiny shoulders of Hollywood’s most famous actor under three feet.
Gnome Alone attempts to channel the "success" of previous Leprechaun movies, but Troyer simply doesn't exude the same sinister charm that Warwick Davis once found.