Here’s a scenario I’m sure you’re familiar with: you're browsing through the video store and you see a whole bunch of sequels to a movie (e.g. WARLOCK 3, 5, 8, etc.) You think: “What film is worthy enough to inspire sequels in the double digits?” and suddenly an urge comes across you to watch the original. That's what happened when I looked upon the shelf and saw the LEPRECHAUN saga. Perhaps inspired by Opening Kill’s recent review of the sequel LEPRECHAUN: BACK TO THA HOOD, I decided to check out the very first movie of the series. The conclusion? Not only was this garbage not worthy of sequels, it may not be worthy of shelf-space in a video store. It has only two redeeming features: one truly inventive death, and indisputable evidence that Jennifer Aniston can't act in any role other than Rachel Green.
The plot itself is thin. Real thin. We're talking Lindsay Lohan post-MEAN GIRLS era thin or better yet, the skinny Olsen twin thin. Don’t blink or you may miss my summary of it: a family moves into a house in the country with an evil Leprechaun living in the basement. Throw in a couple wacky house painters, some idiot cops, and bam, you've got yourself a movie. If this is all it takes to inspire a franchise of countless sequels, I should have been a millionaire years ago. Somewhere the producers of LEPRECHAUN are laughing heartily while bathing each other in money.
The leprechaun, played by Warwick Davis, best known as the little dude in WILLOW, was placed in this basement years ago by one of his enemies who was armed with a three-leafed clover. Of course, when the family from the city arrives to the house, they set the little dude free (please note my politically correct use of the term little dude). The guy carries all the characteristics of your typical leprechaun, including the need to perpetually clean shoes. Now, does that sound scary to you: a little green midget obsessed with cleaning shoes?
And therein lies the problem of LEPRECHAUN. It's not just that it isn’t scary, since most horror movies aren't. Half of the fun of watching bad horror movies is seeing why the creators thought it might be scary, but watching it fail because of poor execution. However, with LEPRECHAUN you can't possibly fathom how the filmmakers could possibly think this stuff would be scary AND it’s poorly-executed. That’s a deadly combo.
Jennifer Aniston’s performance is the scariest thing in this movie. I’m sorry Brad left you, Jen, but that sympathy still won’t prevent me from tearing into your horrendously awful performance (and that’s by bad horror movie standards). At one point in the movie, Aniston stumbles over her words trying to defend her character’s feminist credentials. You’ll know it when you hear it. Either she tried to improvise this line and failed miserably, or she made a scripted line sound poorly improvised - a feat of poor acting either way. It's the kind of moment that makes you think that the editor must have been asleep in a puddle of his own drool when this scene was being viewed, as it should have ended up on the cutting room floor.
I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but there really is nothing to tell, other than saying the little dude spends the rest of the movie running around screaming “I need me gold!” in a suspect Irish accent, while making occasional killings along the way. The best thing I can say about this movie is that one of the leprechaun’s victims gets taken out when he pogo sticks him to death. Now, that’s something I’ve never seen before, but the filmmakers manage to screw even that up by not showing the gory effects on the victim. In fact, there is very little blood in this stinker, a problem which I am told is remedied in further installments.
The leprechaun throws out supposedly witty one-liners after each killing, but their only effect is to offend Irish people. The little dude’s presence is not remotely scary, funny, or interesting. Avoid the first LEPRECHAUN movie at all costs. I think I will let Opening Kill watch additional Leprechaun installments as I have had my fill. Having said that, LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE sounds quite promising…
Rating: * (out of a possible 4)