Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Albeit still one of the most inane franchises in moviemaking history, LR at least takes cue from smart slasher brands with a modern (fandom-service) sequel to its original film – with better horror, comedy, acting, & Leprechaun design. 4.2/10.

Plot Synopsis: 25 years after the events of the original film, Sorority sisters unwittingly awaken a depraved leprechaun who decides to teach them a lesson in murder.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Official CLC Review

Two words: Pogo. stick. The original Leprechaun’s failed premise of perhaps the most spectacularly stupid but moderately entertaining slasher movie of All-Time left the door open for countless sequels I admittedly did not even have the strength/fortitude to suffer through (Back 2 Da Hood? My God). However, I’m a massive fan of decades-later reboots or sequels giving a drastically different chance for redemption or tonal innovation, so I was intrigued by the prospect of maybe this time o’ round being different and decent. I’m glad I did as this time, the film is – while still not a good film by any stretch of the imagination but then again what were you expecting: its premise pretty much squashes that possibility – quite entertaining as one-and-done meta-slasher correcting some of its predecessor’s biggest faults. Albeit still one of the most inane franchises in the history of moviemaking, Leprechaun Returns at least takes cue from smart slasher brands with a modern (fandom-service) decades-later meta-sequel to its original film with better horror, comedy, acting, & Lep design.

The biggest MVP here: Steven Kostanski. While still visibly a director still learning the ropes of the craft in roughness-around-the-edges, I respect his attempt to tighten the hinges and try to breathe some life and innovate this heaping pile of franchise through smarter comedy and a horror boost. It still maintains its original’s shell of a wise-cracking sadistic Leprecaun, but puts him on steroids in all the best ways. He is dramatically scarier in look with a darker, demonic facial with all the bells and CGi whistles modern advancements afford, way funnier in gags/wise-cracks on amusing modernized topics like crocs, selfies, drone-riding, smartphones, and Prius escape vehickles, less nasily in annoying voice, and gorier plus more effective in carrying out increasingly-sadistic kills like slicing a guy in half with a solar panel, decapitation with drone blades, and bludgeoning a girl with a sprinkler head turning her into a makeshift one watering plants with blood instead of water. It also takes earnest jabs at the franchise and genre in fun ways like calling its own Lep’s motivations for killing teenagers of a few gold coins “kind of anticlimactic”, pointing out scare-junkies’ love for gore as they’re delivering it, and letting its usual-victims (and far-improved cast) take a stand and try to fight back.

Character cast and callbacks to the original. The character work here is also night-and-day compared to the original. The acting is actually *gasp* fine – I mean, not Oscar-nominatable of course but surprisingly adequate. The characters (though moderately slasher-clichéd) work and performances make for a flick that both cult-fans will love and normal audiences will find watchable too in contrast to its series kin. It also has plenty of callbacks and authenticity to the original it follows too as a respectable template for how future remakes should reinvigorate the series. Taking cue from another slasher series to successfully do the same in the stellar 2018 Halloween ignoring its awful series plots and picking up right where the original left off, Leprechaun Returns does the same both cameoing original actors like Mark Holton’s Ozzie and the same house setting and maintaining its predecessor’s campiness and feel for a final product that feels true to its (dumb) premise but new and more accessible/advanced (and fits in a bunch of genre homages from Psycho to Evil Dead to Halloween to The Shining to Paranormal Activity).

Flaws in Leprechaun Returns center around its woefully-miscast lead actress, problematic start and end, and of course – the fact that its franchise’s imbecility precludes any film wherein from being actually good. Taylor Spreitler just does not fit the role of Lila at all being a horrendously-shaky, amateurish-delivery, not even remote look-alike to the Anniston-daughter she claims to be as the weak link/black sheep of the bunch of far better performances around her (Sai Bennett would’ve been a *way* better main character + final girl). The script is admittedly prety slasher-basic with tons of plot holes like clouding just exactly what the rules are for killing this green being (is it clovers or fire or..? None of them seemed to work in the end so what was the.. point?), differential power problems carrying over from the first with Lep literally ripping car doors off hinges and throwing people across the room in some frames while being beaten into submission by – pillows? – in others, and perhaps the award-worthy most idiotic way to bring him back from the dead of All-Time as a knockoff-chestburster that makes absolutely no sense and is breathtakingly lame/lazily-written. Of course, the stupidity of a franchise idea of a Lucky Charms slasher also prevents it from ever being passable as a truly good movie either, but you knew that coming in.

Overall, Leprechaun Returns – while still not a good movie as its franchise inhibits its kin from becoming by premise – is a surprisingly-entertaining, decent B-movie if taken completely-unseriously to at least pass some time or fill a quick scares/laughs meta-fix. Although full of plot holes with a horrifically-miscast main character and lazy Lep-return, L.R. at least takes cue from smart slasher brands with a modern (fandom-service) decades-later meta-sequel to its original film with better horror, comedy, acting, & Leprechaun design for perhaps the best results this film series will ever see.

Overall Score: 4.2/10