It’s hard to believe, but in 1993 Jennifer Aniston was a complete unknown. She’d soon go on to become one of the most famous actors on television, and have a haircut named in her character’s honour, but before all that she starred in horror comedy Leprechaun. Originally pitched as a more serious straight-horror affair, humour was soon added to try and make it stand-out from the rest. The resulting film saw Willow and Star Wars star Warwick Davis join the horror villain elite. Leprechaun proved successful and so a slew of sequels followed. These films had the leprechaun visit the ‘hood, space, and the ‘hood again, before everything went quiet for a while. Recent years saw a failed attempt at a reboot – Leprechaun Origins starring WWE’s Hornswoggle as the Irish menace.
Now comes a fresh try, one that follows last year’s Halloween formula. Leprechaun Returns, like Halloween, is a direct sequel to the original Leprechaun, cancelling out all that previously followed it. So rather than hanging with Ice-T and floating in orbit, the leprechaun (this time played by Linden Porco) has spent the last twenty or so years festering down that well. He’s finally ‘reborn’ when an eco-friendly sorority decides that the dilapidated property and well are the perfect venue for their back-to-nature sorority house. When newest recruit Lila (daughter of Aniston’s character Tory) arrives with Ozzie (played by a returning Mark Holton), the leprechaun finds the perfect way out of his prison and soon begins terrorising the girls and their friends, as he once more searches for his precious gold.
What made 2018’s Halloween so strong as a direct sequel, which wiped out all other lore, was that it heavily featured it’s original final girl again. Leprechaun Returns didn’t get Aniston back to star, so instead we get the convoluted ‘daughter of’, a trope that was used in a lot in horror sequels around the time of the original Leprechaun. The buzz around the Halloween direct sequel paid off, but here it feels like a really cheap hook, and one that you wouldn’t really miss unless you have seen the first film. There is also the inclusion of Ozzie, but short of being a ‘hey it’s that guy from the original’, his role could be any other character.
Leprechaun, which is included with the DVD for Leprechaun Returns, wasn’t the most solid of movies to begin with, and the sequel falls even further from perfection. It also veers in a very different direction. The original was a comedy horror, and although the same could be said for this sequel, it’s a much more gruesome movie. The first film was rather anaemic, but here blood gushes freely with nearly all of the deaths featuring bucket-loads of the red stuff. The original had a rather limited kill count, here it’s a more standard slasher affair with almost all characters perishing in more and more absurd ways. We get someone split in two by a solar panel, someone water-sprinkled to death, and an idiot who clearly went to the ‘Rickon Stark school of evading’ whom seemingly allows himself to get taken down by a drone. And did we mention a game of charades with a ghost? That pushes Leprechaun Returns firmly into jumping the shark territory, and certainly won’t keep Wayne’s World’s Garth up at night.
What really grates about Leprechaun Returns is the unwelcome and outdated reliance on misogynistic jokes; for some reason the leprechaun has suddenly become a massive sex pest. He’s seen watching one of the girls in the shower, and later remarks to her that she has ‘boobs of talent’, the same girl smacks him around the face to which he replies, ‘you give great head’. The girls themselves aren’t the intelligent and independent sisters you would hope for in this day and age, and each of them instead fills a well-trodden trope. There’s the bossy bitch, the booze-hound, and the girl who keeps sleeping with a guy she clearly hates, just because. Characters also change traits throughout, with one character whom has been nice and friendly to Lila suddenly snapping a photo of her getting out of the shower and saying it’s going up on social media. It’s confusing and hard to work out whether we should be rooting for the girls or the leprechaun, as both sides are deplorable.
A sorry sequel that limps to its conclusion, Leprechaun Returns is a confused and outdated muddle of a movie. Much like the leprechaun, you’ll be frantically searching for gold, but will come up with nothing but cheap lead.
Leprechaun Returns is available to own on DVD from 1st April 2019.