Leprechaun is a film that reminds us that horrific things indeed do sometimes come in small packages, and that Jennifer Aniston did “act” before Friends.
The film opens with Daniel O’Grady (Shay Duffin) returning to his wife (Pamela Mant) in America, with 100 gold coins stolen from a Leprechaun (Warwick Davis). Said vengeful Leprechaun quickly dispatches O’Grady’s wife, but O’Grady manages to lock the Leprechaun in a crate topped with a four leaf clover.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, he suffers a stroke before he can burn it. Nonetheless, all was well as the supernatural threat remained trapped in said crate… or at least he was until an idiotic man-child releases him.
But we are perhaps getting ahead of ourselves.
First, we need to fast forward a decade, where we find a spoilt brat Tory (Aniston) and her father J.D. (John Sanderford), who has just bought O’Grady’s place intending to fix it up.
The fact that Jennifer Aniston is in the film is something of a well-known fact, but it’s still odd seeing her show up. It almost feels to me like she is preparing for her role as Rachel Green (her character from Friends).
Anyway… the man-child as mentioned earlier is a painter named Ozzie, who works on the O’Grady house with his friend Nathan (who you could say has more than a passing resemblance to Kevin Bacon), and his kid brother Alex.
While bumbling about, Ozzie manages to knock the four leaf clover off the crate that releases the Leprechaun. But perhaps understandably, nobody believes Ozzie’s declaration… until it is too late.
The Leprechaun himself has been influenced by the slasher films of the late 80’s / early 90’s. He is a wise-cracker first and foremost, and whilst he isn’t particularly scary, the makeup on Davis is spot-on. And it’s this that gives the film its charm.
The Leprechaun’s wit and gleeful delight that he shows with each kill is almost Kruger-like. Davis is brilliant in the role, and probably the sole reason that this film became a success and spawned so many sequels.
There are also some of the most surreal chase scenes involving a tricycle, miniature car, and the best pogo stick-related death (albeit, perhaps the only one…) ever put to film.
As for the acting, considering we are in B-movie territory, the calibre is pretty much what you expect. It will come as no surprise that this is not an award-winning film, but it did help launch Aniston’s career, and I suppose we should be thankful for that… right?
The story is of course ridiculous, but what else could you expect? A film that is based on a psychotic leprechaun could only be campy and fun, and the best part is it’s very self-aware and acts accordingly.
In hindsight, Leprechaun almost feels like a story R.L. Stine created for a Goosebumps film. It’s aimed at teens, but the gore was added to the film to get it an “R” rating or the “18” certificate in the UK.
These more ‘extreme’ scenes do perhaps feel a little jarring to the overall tone of the film. The aforementioned Pogo stick murder is unique and quite amusing, but pretty horrific too. The same can be said for the “death” of the Leprechaun himself. Otherwise, most of the other deaths are quite, well, meh.
To me, a film’s job is to provide either escape or entertainment, and Leprechaun does succeed in doing that. It’s great to see the journey that Tory goes through: a spoilt brat who is afraid of “nature”, becoming a gun-toting badass who, shock-horror, now curses! Well, she does at least once, anyway.
But for me, the saviour of the film turns out to be the little kid, Alex, who – spoiler alert! – slingshots a fatal four-leaf clover into the Leprechaun’s mouth whilst delivering the best line: “Fuck you, Lucky Charms”.
It turns out that this statement is more than just a wisecrack – it’s a genuine two-fingers to the popular cereal company. Originally, Lucky Charms were going to allow their brand to be used, but once there realised that it was a horror film, they removed the rights from the film. It’s quirks like this that perhaps give the film more of a cult-like status.
On a technical level there is a ‘cheap’ vibe, to the point where you feel that you are watching something that went “straight to video” rather than having a theatrical release.
Overall, Leprechaun is absurd. But of course, that’s what makes it so enjoyable. If you are looking for a clever and atmospheric horror, then you will be disappointed. But if you’re spending the evening with some mates and a four pack of Guinness, then seek this one out.
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