The cycle of horror franchises is seemingly perpetual. Many starting in the 80’s with following sequels pumped out direct-to-video/DVD/VOD and so on to varying degrees of quality. Most are cash-grabs, but when you find a horror franchise sequel, regardless of format, that perfectly captures the spirit of the original, it must be lauded. Which is why I cannot recommend Leprechaun Returns enough!
A direct continuation of the original 1993 horror comedy, the story follows Lila (Taylor Spreitler) as she journeys to North Dakota AU Sorority’s brand new, eco-friendly house… which just so happens to be on the site of the dead fairytale creature. And as the old saying goes (or at least it should) you can’t keep a good Leprechaun down! The Leprechaun soon returns to his old habits of one-liners and murder as he tries to track down his pot ‘o gold while slaughtering any sorority sisters in his way!
Being a Syfy Channel TV movie, it’s easy to assume it’s just a schlockfest when there’s some real magic at work here. Directed by Astron-6 alum/SFX artist Steven Kostanski, CG is minimal and flows with a truly impressive array of practical work for all sorts of gory kills and mystical mayhem. Let’s just say the Leprechaun makes some creative use of the green sorority house’s solar panels and a wayward drone. The make-up on the Leprechaun is like that of the old while making it gnarlier to set it as its own. Gross green skin, a flowing red beard, and piercing golden eyes. If you’re in need of a practical heavy movie, this one’s for you.
The script by Ash VS Evil Dead writer Suzanne Keilly stands out in the best ways a horror comedy should. The Leprechaun’s one-liners are as fresh as ever, and there’s some self-referential bits that cracked me up. In particular, the shoe obsessed Leprechaun’s reaction to Crocs were hysterical. The characters are fairly typical of this sort of Greek Week terror. There’s the sorority sisters, some frat guys, and our main character who has some secrets to be unveiled.
As well as the return of the Leprechaun, Mark Holton as Ozzie from the first movie makes a comeback. It’s interesting to note that this is also the first time in the franchise that any sequel has connected to another, especially the first. On the Leprechaun himself, while Warwick Davis sadly does not return for this outing, his replacement does a fine job in filling his finely buckled shoes. Linden Porco is able to cackle and crack-wise while cracking skulls with his lepre-claws just fine.
Leprechaun Returns is not without its faults, but mainly can be attributed to a low-budget. Minimal cast means a minimal amount of kills. For the most part, those characters don’t really stand-out too much aside from being Leprechaun fodder. And while a majority share of the jokes land, some felt like they were trying a bit too hard to be current, as in millenials, eco-friendliness, that sort of thing.
Overall however, Leprechaun Returns is most definitely the Leprechaun sequel fans have been craving as much as the titular monster has been craving his gold. Truly recapturing the sickly green heart of the original and setting up for further maniacal misadventures.
Leprechaun Returns is out on digital/VOD December 11th, 2018 and will be airing on The Syfy Channel in 2019.