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Review: Steven Kostanski’s “Leprechaun Returns” (Stupid Fun at Its Best)

Lep in the hood come to do no good. Lep in the hood come to do – no – good. Since I was incredibly hung over from my bachelors party and still had to work most of the day, watching the SyFy Channel premiere of Leprechaun Returns was the only way I celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day. I was oddly excited for the eighth film in the series. As online polls will tell you, horror fans tend to turn their nose up at remakes and reboots, while others are interested in seeing what a more modern take on a cult classic has to offer. I’m in the latter category, and I was even more pumped knowing that Leprechaun Returns is a direct sequel to the original 1993 film starring Jennifer Aniston and Warwick Davis. I’ll get into those specifics in a little bit. Written by Suzanne Kelly and based on the characters created by Mark Jones, Leprechaun Returns follows a small group of sorority girls as they transform Dan O’Grady’s (from the first film) farmhouse into an eco-friendly, self-sustainable property. Just in time for a new recruit’s arrival, the Leprechaun is freed from his prison and back on the hunt for his gold. With new and old faces ready to be pulled and plucked, this Saint Patrick’s Day is a fight twenty five years in the making. Directed by Steven Kostanski (The Void), Taylor Spreitler, Pepi Sonuga, Sai Bennett, Oliver Llewellyn Jenkins, Ben McGregor and Emily Reid star alongside Mark Holton returning as Ozzie, Linden Porco taking over as The Leprechaun from Warwick Davis and Heather McDonald taking over as Tory Redding from Jennifer Aniston.

I guess I’ll start there. While Linden Porco did a wonderful job playing a crazed, murderous, gold obsessed maniac, no one can ever replace Warwick Davis. The role is iconic and perhaps one of the gigs that made him a household name among horror fans. Leprechaun: Origins (2014) from WWE Studios was a far cry from a remake, so I’m happy that this reboot had the smallest, greenest, evilist Leprechaun return in his full glory; but Warwick reprising the role would have been more than welcomed. But Mark Holton did return as Ozzie, and he spends a good chunk of time on screen in Leprechaun Returns. Such a friendly face welcoming the audience back to a comedy-horror massacre. Along with the original farm house and well, it made Leprechaun Returns a direct sequel to the first film, and sometimes sets and locations are secondary characters that viewers fall in love with. Props for nabbing these locations, or ones that closely resembled the originals. Now, spoiler alert, Tory Redding is still a huge part of Leprechaun Returns despite the fact that she never appears on screen. I’m not going to tell you in what capacity she is featured, but voice actress Heather McDonald does an amazing job at mimicking her and envisioning what Tory would sound like in her late 40’s. The rest of the cast and the adjoining locations were pretty good, especially for a film premiering on SyFy Channel, but obviously the connections to the series’ ancestor is what’s going to draw audiences to this movie.

And what will they find? Well, with titles such as Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood and Leprechaun in Space, I don’t think anyone ever picks up a copy of any film in this series saying, “Oh my god, Karen. This is going to be so scary.” The fact of the matter is, this series has survived for twenty six years based solely on the devotion to the first comedy-horror entry in 1993 and shock value. People want to see what shenanigans the friendly little leprechaun will get into all while he’s flaying those who stand between him and his gold. Again, taking the prior movies into consideration, Leprechaun Returns is slightly more serious and horror-centered than sequels 3 – 5, but it’s still heavy on rhymes and comedic aspects. The humor isn’t based on gag effects or dirty humor, going for a more dry, self-deprecating style. For an example, a spoiler, two characters are triumphantly walking away from the house set to dramatic music before they stop and walk back to the cop saying, “Actually we should probably get a ride with him because I’m losing a lot of blood.” So, really, I’m OK with the comedy interwoven into the story because writer Suzanne Kelly and director Steven Steven Kostanski didn’t overdo it. And producers Daniel Iron, Samantha Levine, Stephen Raglow and Lance Samuels, cinematographer Trevor Calverley and editor Christopher Minns were on hand to make sure Leprechaun Returns showcases all of its best material at top notch quality. Really, Leprechaun Returns is better production-wise than most movies that broadcast on SyFy. Not that that’s always difficult. Well done, team.

So, what didn’t I like about Leprechaun Returns? It was a little too long for me. I would have enjoyed it more if they shaved off fifteen minutes. Besides a few rough shots, like the one drone that looked horrendous, Leprechaun Returns was just what I expected it to be. A story that connects a movie in 2018 to the 1993 original, a horror-comedy with decent acting and production value, but certainly nothing that is award winning material or Oscar contender recognition. Speaking of which, the special effects were far and away the best part of Leprechaun Returns. Too many people worked in this department to name them all directly, so I’ll just say that their hard work in this film did not go unnoticed. Would I recommend Leprechaun Returns to old fans? Yes. Would I recommend Leprechaun Returns to new fans? Yes, it could become a new holiday tradition to a younger generation while also introducing the beloved character to those of us not born in the 80’s and 90’s. I would not recommend this to a horror snob who takes their movie watching material too seriously. Leprechaun Returns is nothing short of stupid fun. A turn your brain off and enjoy type of movie. It’s a blood-soaked holiday spectacular in its own right and something that makes you think, “What the fuck did I just watch?” A capable sequel to a cult classic, Leprechaun Returns brings the 90’s back to life with moderate success. And it’s now available to own on digital and on demand markets. Stupid fun. You can’t beat it. Final Score: 6 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)