26 Aug 2014

Review - 'Leprechaun: Origins' is Guilt Without the Pleasure

Backpacking through the lush Irish countryside, two unsuspecting young couples discover a town's chilling secret. Ben (Dunbar), Sophie (Bennet), David (Fletcher) and Jeni (Roxburgh) quickly discover the idyllic land is not what it appears to be when the town's residents offer the hikers an old cabin at the edge of the woods. Soon, the friends will find that one of Ireland's most famous legends is a terrifying reality.

What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster, is it a monster? Nope, it's a gimmick WWE wrestler dressed in saggy grey skin, growling as he sprays blood and steals gold; that my friends is Leprechaun: Origins in a nutshell. Now, we all knew Origins was never going to be that good, partly because WWE Studios was behind it, but also because the Leprechaun films were never that good anyways, in fact they were always the furthest thing from; but they were fun, completely idiotic, but fun. So what happens when you remove all the elements that made the franchise so iconic and replace them with the most outdone of horror conventions? you get Origins, a prequel so deprived of style it reads like the Texas Chainsaw 3D of the Massacre Franchise. I like Chainsaw 3D, but the rest of humanity however, did not. Why this comparison you may ask? Well, Chainsaw 3D tried to re-write the rules of an already well-established franchise by making Leatherface the anti-hero, causing fans to rage over the "new" Leatherface that was being portrayed. Origins more on less does the same thing, except here they completely strip the well-developed character of all its traits and charms (get it), leaving a gargoyle monster of few words just to try and make the franchise "scary again". If I was a fan of the franchise, all I know is that that sort of shit would piss me right off.

This moves me along to my next (brief) point. Why make such a big deal of having little Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl star as the Leprechaun when (slight spoiler) he fails to utter as much as one syllable? Clearly it was the work of WWE Studio that landed him the role, but when he has nothing to say, buried under layers of creature make-up and is rarely seen in order to "build suspense", then what is the point in broadcasting his role so loudly? Obviously it was to draw in some more punters, but to be honest, for a film that displays much of its actor, you see a startling lack of the killer Leprechaun.

Fans of the franchise beware, as you may not want to hear that Leprechaun: Origins is actually a bad movie. I went into this one with relatively high hopes, knowing it was going to be bad but hoping it would be my new guilty pleasure. But instead, it was just guilt for actually believing there was hope for this sloppy prequel that was better than the rest yet strangely disappointing. Moving the franchise along in a more serious root proves to be the best option, but eliminating the fun element cripples the audience from enjoying the film to its full potential; a fun death or a quick-wit joke or two could have boosted the experience, but the tone was too serious for its own good.

The characters are stale and the set-up is predictable, all of which proves great example for what The Cabin in the Woods was mocking in the first place. Although the acting falls short of acceptable, the main four do a decent job at battling everything that's thrown at them, even if they have a drastic mood change from one scene to the next. It's all basic stuff really, both the acting and delivery, and it's a real shame really that this neither become the film we all love to hate or the film that was so bad it's good...

Although the odd fresh beat stops the film from becoming almost completely unbearable, Origins sticks too close to the conventions of the slasher/monster genre preventing it from establishing anything new or worthy of admiring; and yes I did say there was the odd beat, they were never memorable enough to rejoice over. Realistically, Origins proves that the story of the killer Leprechaun has long been dead and buried, and has been so since they took him to space. Bravo however for trying which shows throughout, and a certain death or two proves just that; but the editing is too frustrating and the score is too generic for the film to successfully build the sufficient suspense needed when the violent imagery is often held at a halt. One moment here and one moment there shines, but it's the complete lack of consistency that stunts Origins from being better than average.

Ps. This stereotype that all Irish dress like they fell from the 1800's, all happen to be farmers and speak in the same god-damn accent is bloody annoying; I myself am Irish and live in Ireland, and I have never met anyone who looks or talks like that! By the way, prepare yourself for a worse line than "Do Your Thing Cuz", because "Here's Your Lucky Charms" is right up there.... I died inside.

Replacing fun with sloppy, original with conventional, Leprechaun: Origins is less guilty pleasure and more guilty for viewing; and although it is a step above the rest, it's simply takes itself too seriously for its own well being.


2014 / 90 mins / Slasher, Monster / R

Director: Zach Lipovsky

Writer: Harris Wilkinson

Stars: Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl, Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh, Brendan Fletcher



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