Horror-lovers looking for a St. Paddy’s inspired holiday movie know they can always rely on the Leprechaun franchise. The series allows us to continuously return to Lubdan the Leprechaun and all his gold-seeking killer instincts and cheeky one-liners...
...Combining a bit of gore with a bit of comedy, the series (aside from Origins) gives the audience some fun death scenes and several snorts of derision. Warwick Davis originated the role and appears as everybody’s favorite killer Leprechaun in 75% of the franchise, however, I want to make the claim that the newest installment Leprechaun Returns, directed by The Void co-director Steven Kostanski, may prove to be the best of the series. Devoted Davis fans and Leprechaun-purists most likely already clicked out of this article or are sending my boss an angry complaint letter (go ahead! I dare you) because from 1993 to 2003, Davis existed as the only Leprechaun. And that’s fine. However, when one Leprechaun steps down, you need to allow another one to shine. So, despite long time Leprechaun fans following the rainbow to one of the original six films, Leprechaun Returns is the real pot of gold with a laudable Leprechaun, better humor, and gorier death scenes.
Linden Porco plays the recognizable Leprechaun in Returns and not only does he do well to fill Warwick Davis’ well cobbled shoes, but Porco also helps erase all the damage Leprechaun: Origins inflicted on the series. Replacing a well-known actor in a very recognizable role presents as a daunting task for most, but the lead actor of Returns embraced the challenge. After 25 years, Lubdan escapes the well which trapped him in the first movie, so we can pretend films 2-7 never happened. But, unlike the Halloween series alternate timeline approach, Leprechaun magically blends the charms of the earlier franchise with the “requel” of present day. Combining old and new gives the modern Leprechaun some space to stretch his abilities and add his own take on Lubdan. Also, the present-day Leprechaun needed to prove the series still held merit in the horror world after the disappointment of Origins. The predecessor to Returns strayed so far from the original tone and story, the franchise needed the perfect Leprechaun to resurrect the series and Returns delivered.
The darkness of the penultimate Leprechaun removed all humor from a series typically known as a horror/comedy but Returns takes back the jokes. When the series started in 1993, the titular character initially portrayed qualities of a straight-up horror antagonist, but inspiration from the original actor allowed for more comedy to infiltrate the story and helped create the version of Lubdan we know today. As for Returns, the film takes a more serious approach to the story, but still includes a fair amount of humor. However, unlike the Davis-era films, the 2018 addition strays away from the cheesy limericks, silly situations (looking at you Leprechaun 4: In Space), and slapstick and instead gives us a few chuckles from more realistic interactions and occurrences. The Davis Leprechaun portrayed more of a Freddy Krueger kind of killer with his jokes and play on words, while Returns takes cues from current comedy trends and pop culture. Porco comes off as a post-Scream film era inspired villain and his version of the mythical creature falls more in line with the snarky manipulations of Ghostface.
Aside from all the Leprechaun charm and groan-worthy giggles, Returns also brings a different level of gore to the series. Previous Leprechauns relied on magic and trickery as methods of torment and dismemberment. But with the newest film, Lubdan finds himself with weakened powers because he no longer possesses his gold. So, the Guinness-sized killer must perform a huge onslaught on the youths without the help of magic. You know the saying: Modern problems call for modern solutions. While originally mystified by smart phones and crocs, the Leprechaun quickly adapts to the time period and finds delightfully bloody ways to fashion such devices as a solar panel, a sprinkler system, and a drone into gory killing machines. The Leprechaun films of yesteryear relied primarily on practical effects, so the introduction of CGI in Returns might seem blasphemous. However, digital and practical effects merge effortlessly to create a stunning world of gore and green-goo.
Leprechaun Returns serves as an actual ‘return’ to the Leprechaun series and more than makes up for the off-brand and all-around-dud of a film that was Leprechaun: Origins. But the newest Leprechaun movie is not just a better installment when compared to its immediate predecessor. Returns can also go toe-to-toe in a Leprechaun-off with any of the original six movies in the franchise. Porco gives the series an admirable Lubdan and while Davis will always hold a special place in our green-shamrocked-shaped hearts, the new Leprechaun actor offers up a lot of possibilities for a successful reboot of the series.
Need a revisit or never seen it? Leprechaun Returns is available to stream through SYFY On Demand.
By Amylou Ahava
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