Leprechaun Returns finds Lila and her sorority sisters spending their summer rehabilitating an old house. The ladies are retrofitting the domicile with solar panels and other green alternatives to conventional energy. In the process of setting up their new dwelling with well water, they inadvertently bring back to life the leprechaun who was trapped in there some 25 years prior.
Leprechaun Returns makes the choice to retcon each of the follow up efforts that came after the 1993 original. The series had a tendency to go progressively more outlandish with each installment and ultimately became something of a joke. The latest entry in the long-running franchise doesn’t abandon the comedic tone that the series is known for but it does strip things back to basics and strives for a tone similar to the first film. In doing so, it avoids the gimmicks and outright tomfoolery that eventually derailed the franchise. Ultimately, director, Steven Kostanski (The Void) strikes the right balance between funny and scary with this latest installment.
While it was disappointing that Warwick Davis didn’t return to play the titular character, Linden Porco (Channel Zero) is fantastic in his turn as the wisecracking leprechaun. He is menacing but often hilarious. He is a big part of the reason the film was able to successfully offer up a deft mixture of well-timed scares and laughs.
In addition to striking a smart balance between frights and chuckles, Leprechaun Returns is also noteworthy for featuring a smart and resourceful female lead. Lila (Taylor Spreitler) is a capable and likable heroine. Case in point: When Matt (Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins) tells Lila that he’s good with a camera but not to ask him to fix her sink, she responds that she can fix her own sink. Suzanne Keilly (Ash vs. Evil Dead) deserves accolades for breaking from the long-standing tradition of the damsel in distress. None of the women in the film need to be rescued by a man. Although some of them come across as ditzy, it is they who are rehabilitating their home. The women are the ones installing solar panels, changing the fuses in the house, and carrying out the heavy lifting.
In addition to being capable and resourceful, I appreciated the fact that the characters in this follow up effort are prone to use logic from time to time. For example, Lila suggests that hiding in the basement might be a bad idea because they could get trapped in there. Lila and her friends don’t always make the right choices. It is a horror movie after all. But, it’s refreshing to see a certain level of common sense bestowed upon the core cast.
Speaking of the film’s cast, Mark Holton makes a welcome return to the franchise as Ozzie, which does a great job of bridging Leprechaun Returns to the 1993 original. The eventual friendship he develops with Lila is touching without being overly sentimental.
Another of the film’s strengths is that it features really inventive kill scenes. The blood flies early and often and it’s a lot of fun to watch. A series of unconventional murder weapons are put to great use and the stage blood is dispensed liberally.
As for what doesn’t work, some of the dialogue is a little cheesy. And not all of the jokes stick the landing. But, the puns that do work make up for most of the missteps.
I also have to say that some of the elements of the story are a little far fetched. But we are talking about a film depicting a homicidal leprechaun searching for his pot of gold. So, when put into perspective, some of the less believable plot points are forgivable.
Ultimately, I was shocked by how much fun I had watching Leprechaun Returns. It’s clear that Steven Kostanski and company had fun making this film. You can catch Leprechaun Returns on Digital and On Demand now. And I would suggest you do just that.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Steven Kostanski
Writer(s): Suzanne Keilly
Stars: Taylor Spreitler, Linden Porco, Sai Bennett, Mark Holton, Pepi Sonuga, and Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins
Release Date: December 11 (Digital, On Demand)
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate, SyFy