It's been a big year for horror in general but, more specifically, horror reboots, with Halloween leading the pack. Now, a former video store staple has been given the reboot treatment, with Leprechaun Returns retconning the long-running series for a new generation. Believe it or not, this new take on the often cheesy and at times unwatchable franchise manages to strike some gold. This is, safe to say, a series-best entry.
Leprechaun Returns, much like the new Halloween, decides to throw out every previous sequel in favor of serving as a direct follow-up to the 1993 original. The premise is simple: a group of sorority sisters are fixing up a house in a small town in an attempt to go off-the-grid and do their part for the future. During the process, they unwittingly awaken a the gold-seeking killer, who was last seen falling down a well 25 years ago. Now, he's on a path to retrieve his gold and these sorority sisters are, unfortunately for them, in his way.
Like many long-running horror franchises, Leprechaun had really lost its way. The character had two different entries in "da hood" and even went to space. Granted, the series was never exactly something meant to be taken too seriously, but it hadn't just jumped the shark. It launched over it. If we're to accept that these movies must continue to exist, then it's hard to imagine a better scenario than Leprechaun Returns.
This movie honors what came before, in that this is still a campy and silly movie, but, perhaps for the first time, gives us an entry that actually has something to say. Surprisingly, this serves as a pretty excellent commentary and send-up of the genre, in addition to being a love letter to it in general. There are tons of quite impressive nods to all sorts of horror classics, as well as jokes that lovingly tear down the tropes that often accompany horror movies such as this. It's equally horrific and genuinely funny, which is what a Leprechaun movie, at its best, should be.
Director Steven Kostanski, coming fresh off of his indie horror hit The Void, was tasked with helming this reboot and it's clear that he was the right man for the job. His comedy actually works, the gore is over-the-top but not unwelcome and it's obvious this is a man who knows the genre well. It's strange to say that a direct-to-video, low-budget seventh entry in a horror movie franchise is well shot and lovingly crafted, but it is. Sure, much of the acting work is cheese-ball as ever, but why have it any other way? Anyone watching one of these flicks has a certain expectation and it very much meets those expectations, while also adding a lot into the mix.
Warwick Davis is the actor who had been previously responsible for bringing the titular character to life. This time around, it's Linden Porco and, while fans may hold an attachment to what was, what is manages to be quite great. Porco keeps the quippy one-liners and attitude intact, but brings something new to the role. Not only that, but the character's makeup and general look have been updated a bit and it's more, on a surface level, terrifying. Linden Porco makes this reinvention work.
Leprechaun Returns does a nice job of honoring the past, such as connecting it very directly to Tory Redding (Jennifer Aniston) and by having Mark Holton return to his role from the original, while also looking ahead to the future. There's the expected stinger setting up a possible sequel but, more than that, this shows that Leprechaun is a welcome figure in modern horror. If one is willing to go so far as to even be curious about what is ultimately the seventh movie about a killer Leprechaun, this movie should come as a pleasant surprise. While not without its flaws, this is probably a best-case scenario for such a reboot. Leprechaun Returns is available now via digital retailers from Lionsgate.