Directed by Drew Daywalt
The first half of Leprechaun’s Revenge is played pretty much as a straightforward horror film that wants to be taken seriously. We’re treated to some spooky imagery, a monster that is seen sparingly and shot in such a way to make it seem truly nightmarish, mostly humorless dialogue, and there were certainly more attempts at jump scares than one usually finds in a Syfy original. It seemed to me as if director Drew Daywalt and writer Anthony C. Ferrante were trying to avoid the typical Syfy trap of making a monster movie that is one big joke.
Then the leprechaun hops behind the wheel of a car and runs down a victim.
From this mid-point on it felt to me as if everyone involved just said “screw it”, realized what they had been trying to pull off up to that point just wasn’t working, and from here on out the dialogue gets punchier, the performances hammier, the monster more Syfy-ier, and evil leprechauns are warded off by glowing horseshoes that function like crucifixes to a vampire. When Sheriff Billy Zane begins rambling like a loon to his movie daughter about the events that led to her mother’s demise during a Black Friday sale, the movie fully enters into comic territory.
The tonal shift from a hokey premise struggling to take itself fairly seriously to giving in to the campiness of its premise the moment we witness vehicular leprecide is so sudden and jarring it was as if the first and second halves were made by different people. And not a moment too soon, I must say, because up to that point the movie wasn’t clicking for me at all and I was seriously contemplating changing the channel.
Because of the endless sea of rules, requirements, formulas, and stereotypes Syfy filmmakers have to fight their way through to get their movies made, and this is before you even deal with the usual hardships that await low budget filmmakers, making a Syfy original movie that is even enjoyable on a purely b-movie level is hard enough. Making a legitimately good Syfy movie is even harder. Making a Syfy horror movie that is actually scary is next to impossible. Can anyone even name a Syfy original movie that genuinely scared you? I can’t.
Sometimes you have to just embrace the schlock. There’s a reason why Warwick Davis has starred in six Leprechaun movies and soon that franchise we will be getting the remake treatment, but Leprechaun’s Revenge is unlikely to be remembered six minutes after you finish watching it. Had Leprechaun’s Revenge embraced the schlock sooner, it might have been written off as a bad movie but it would at least be more memorable.
A small town’s founders brought a real leprechaun over from Ireland and somehow drove it mad as they robbed it of all its luck to continue their prosperous gold rush. Centuries have passed, and any fairy or leprechaun talk is laughed off by most townspeople as crazy talk. With St. Patrick’s Day mere days away, descendants of the town founders (“24” co-star William Devane playing grandfather to “Death Valley” co-star Courtney Halverson) make the mistake of hunting in a section of the woods where the “red clover” is said to bloom. The leprechaun is awakened, and Halverson quickly finds herself marked for death while the Irish imp goes around slashing people to death with its claws and eating their gold. Yes, this leprechaun eats gold. Magically delicious?
Some people may tune in to Leprechaun’s Revenge expecting a new Leprechaun sequel, but rest assured nobody will confuse this leprechaun with Warwick Davis. No rapping or one-liners, no snazzy leprechaun suit and hat; this is the most monstrous leprechaun I think I have ever seen put to film. Like if Swamp Thing and a chupacabra had a baby. Best of all, it’s a man in a suit instead of CGI.
It’s the sort of monster suit that is best presented under cover of atmospheric darkness, all the more eerie coming at you from the spooky shadows. So, naturally, most of its scenes are shot in broad daylight, somewhat undercutting the ghastliness of the suit design. Could you imagine a Pumpkinhead movie that has the monster running amok in the full light of day? Me neither. I don’t fault the filmmakers here because I know for a fact that Syfy has a policy regarding how much of a movie can take place under cover of darkness and the production companies that make these movies shoot on such a tight schedule they just don’t have the time or budget to spend lighting too many night scenes.
Hey, I just thought of something I don’t recall the movie ever addressing. Since leprechauns eat gold, does that mean the real origin of the notion that leprechaun’s have a pot of gold is actually in reference to the chamber pot they do their business in after digesting their golden diet? That is one pot of gold I do not want to find at the end of a rainbow.
2 1/2 out of 5