Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Let's Get Ready To Leprechaun

Apparently, the film-seeing public really wanted a serious Leprechaun movie that handled the material with the full weight it--

Oh who am I kidding. I can't joke about this. WWE produced a Leprechaun movie. 

But why, you ask, would they do that?

Well, possibly because they have a little person in their employment and The Miz can only do so many of those ABC Family/WWE coproduction Christmas movies. Plus, they helped distribute Oculus, which was genuinely scary. If they had something (a tenuous something) to do with a good movie about an evil mirror, why, I suppose, shouldn't they find the same luck with a movie about a murderous leprechaun?

Applying the idea of logic to anything having to do with the World Wrestling Feder--er, Enterprise is never a wise move, as See No Evil could certainly tell you. But hey, how can I possibly let a new Leprechaun movie streaming for free on Amazon Prime go unwatched here in the midst of The Shortening?

I'm only human.

And maybe 1/32nd leprechaun.

Quick Plot: A quartet of young and attractive American backpackers who can store all their vacation clothing and essentials in messenger bags are wandering through Ireland on the search for some history. Well, smart Sophie (Stephanie Bennett of The Nine Lives of Christmas fame) wants to see artifacts, her selfish boyfriend wants to be selfish, and the token fun couple wants to have fun.

A friendly customer named Hamish tells Sophie about some secret ancient historical ruins located a few hours from their current location, and smoothly suggesting the group stays at a cabin he occasionally rents out. Because if they say no we don't get a Leprechaun: Origins movie, the kids settle in for the night as Hamish and his grumpy son ominously lock them inside as a sacrifice to you-know-who.

You might be wondering, since we're a good half hour or so into this movie, where the leprechaun might be. For whatever reason (I think I'll use that expression a lot in this review), director Zach Lipovsky (who co-starred in the basketball playing sasquatch movie Big & Hairy) decides to Jaws-ify his villain, giving us mere glimpses for most of the film's brief running time. That would be fine if Leprechaun: Origins was, you know, scary. 

It's not that the movie doesn't try, something that certainly could not be said about most of the original series. The Leprechaun franchise has always been an odd duck in the realm of horror, trying in its early installments to balance terror with laughs only to give up and embrace its own ridiculousness rather immediately. This is a series that went from Lucky Charms jokes to outer space, and that was all before Warwick Davis had to rap in da hood.

On that note, Leprechaun: Origins could have been exceedingly worse. Had its makers gone the "we're so self-aware" route and failed, this could have been a painful, completely hate-worthy experience. Of course, being a self-aware goofy franchise was in part what defined the Leprechaun series to begin with, so taking a 180 turn and giving us a straight-out horror movie with nary a wink is...well, a tad odd.
See, you'd have to travel over a lot of rainbows to find someone who genuinely believes it is possible to make a scary leprechaun movie. Sure, Davis's villain could teleport and pogo stick with flair, but even I can concede that killer leprechauns are not easy material. Perhaps a master of horror could make it work, in the same way that many a talented filmmaker has given the world genuinely terrifying children, dolls, and other Shortening alumni. But, well, that doesn't happen here.

Leprechaun: Origins is not a terrible movie. It's not really even a bad one, more a mediocre straight-to-whatever-format-people-watch-movies-that-don't-get-theatrical-releases horror flick about pretty young people being terrorized by something that will inevitably kill them in predictable order. The pretty young people are your typical brood of bland, although the script flirts with the idea of what it means when your fellow travelers don't react heroically with self-sacrifice. That in itself could have been a big strength in giving the story a new spin, but despite lingering on shots of characters blatantly not stopping to help their injured friend, the movie never seems to actually want to deal with it or its consequences.

So instead with get Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl's leprechaun, which may as well just be a blood gnome. Postl is a WWE wrestler and, let's face it, probably the main reason the network decided to revive the property. But one of the biggest issues of the movie is the utter anonymity of its titular villain. For as chatty and cliche-spewing charming as Warwick Davis was allowed to be, Postl never makes a sound or really gets a chance to show off his physical skills. He's just there. Kind of like the rest of the movie.

High Points
When--eventually--the leprechaun finally starts to get his hunt on, there are some fairly interesting sparks of violence that suggest what a neater film this might have been if it had been given full reign to go for the rough stuff

Low Points
78 minutes into the film, the credits started to roll.

And roll.

And roll.

I'm a believer in sitting through the credits, not just to count the many wacky nicknames crew members tend to grab, but also because you really just never know if the movie has ended until you give it up for the best boy (usually someone with a name like John "Skippy" Skipton). So I let the television run.

And run.

And run.

In the amount of time Leprechaun: Origins' end credits lasted, I could have done any of the following activities:

- heated up 6 Hot Pockets

- run a mile and an eighth or so

- watched Cher say "wagon wheel watoosi" just long enough to ascend to the next level of nirvana, then sat back for an additional two minutes to enjoy new status of nirvana

And the thing is, THERE IS NO REWARD. Throughout the credits, you get get the same shots of basements and blurry Irish history books dropped in the film, only now bathed in sepia tone. And then there's a violent closeup of The Leprechaun. And then it's all over, and you rewind to confirm that yes indeed, you just experienced a 78 minute movie with a 12 minute end credits sequence. Even Charles Band has never been THAT obvious about padding his running time, and he's Charles Band!

Lessons Learned
Woods are generally filled with lions and tigers and chickens and shit

The eyesight of a leprechaun is a combination of Predator-ish heat vision and random spurts of clear lighting with really blurry figures. Or maybe those scenes were from the point of view of when the leprechaun took his contacts out

Always remember that you have plenty more than an Irishman can steal than a mere 6-pack of Guinness 

COME ONE Lessons For Filmmakers
Look guys, I get it. Hot chicks wearing bras are hot. You know what hot chicks in bras are not? SLEEPING. Women. Don't. Sleep. In. Bras. Male directors who don't wear bras, talk to the women in your life or the actresses in your movie and ask them what they wear to bed. Trust me, it's not a piece of clothing with wires that dig into your sternum designed to keep your breasts in place when being active during the day. Do you wear a tie to bed? EXACTLY. 

Leprechaun: Origins is ultimately a missed opportunity to restart what was a fun, if stupid little franchise. This is by no means the worst new horror movie you'll find on Amazon Prime, but it's certainly among the most frustrating. If you have a specific 78 minute window to fill, it's there. 

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