Director: Steven Kostanski
Cast: Linden Porco, Taylor Spreitler, Mark Holton
Release Date: December 11, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
The deadly, wisecracking Leprechaun is back in all his gory glory. When the sorority sisters of the Alpha Upsilon house decide to go green and use an old well as their water source, they unwittingly awaken a pint-sized, green-clad monster. The Leprechaun wants a pot of gold buried near the sorority house, but first he must recover his powers with a killing spree—and only the girls of AU can stop him.
Twenty-five years after the events of the original ‘Leprechaun’ film which was directed by Mark Jones and featured Warwick Davis in his first appearance as the lovable and conniving trickster, ‘Leprechaun Returns’ takes us back to the location where it all begin as a young college student (Taylor Spreitler) and also the daughter of our first film’s heroine arrives to where her mother and grandfather were twenty-five years prior in order to join her new sorority sisters in renovating the weathered house for a new chapter home. But when the process of doing so inadvertently releases the sadistic Leprechaun (this time portrayed by Linden Porco) who had been trapped there for two and a half decades, these college friends come face to face with the murderous demon themselves and quickly realize the stories told by their friend’s mother were far from the babbling of a crazy person. Now as The Leprechaun embarks on a killing spree to rekindle his power and the bodies continue to pile up around them, these college coeds must embrace the legend and find a way to fight back and hopefully stop this creature for good.
Directed this time around by Steven Kostanski (The Void, Father’s Day) from a screenplay by Suzanne Keilly (TV’s Ash vs Evil Dead), Kostanski does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘Leprechaun Returns’ capturing the twisted, goofy and amusing fun of the original films and upping the gore ante on top of it. The film features a pretty capable cast that includes one returning individual from the original film, along with various newcomers and features Linden Porco (TV’s Channel Zero) who does a magnificent job overall taking up the mantle as The Leprechaun, along with Taylor Spreitler (TV’s Kevin Can Wait), Mark Holton (Leprechaun) and more, with most providing pretty solid and fitting performances in each of their respective roles.
After the utter disaster that was ‘Leprechaun Origins’ it’s really no surprise that Lionsgate would want to revisit and retool what works from prior entries in the franchise and try once more to find something that not only works, but appeases longtime fans. As a personal fan of the franchise since catching the first film on home video I must admit being mildly excited for this new entry, yet still somewhat hesitant. Therefore it was quite the welcome surprise to find that ‘Leprechaun Returns’ exceeded nearly all expectations, managing to truly embrace the best traits of the series and serve up a blood soaked, hilariously twisted and just downright fun horror comedy that hits most of its marks. As any fan of the series will surely agree, Warwick Davis truly defined the role and while we probably aren’t liable to find anyone that will quite match his performance (at least in our minds), I nonetheless must admit that newcomer to the series Linden Porco does far better than I could have ever anticipated and really makes a capable fit altogether capturing the goofy, demented and oddly lovable traits of the Leprechaun.
Much like the new ‘Halloween’ film, ‘Leprechaun Returns’ serves as a direct sequel to the original 1993 film and therefore disregards the various sequels and does a rather competent job picking up from the events of 25 years ago. It definitely has a lot going for it, capturing most of what made the original entries so great and while many moments do indeed hit the mark quite accurately, it does have its share of faults as well and there are plenty of tidbits and scenes that don’t quite land; even a few that come off pretty horrid. Fortunately, the good more than outweighs the bad here and one can’t really claim that any of the ‘Leprechaun’ films are downright perfection after all, often benefitting as much from the ridiculousness as other aspects. Offering up what is almost surely more gore and over the top death sequences than any prior entry as well as embracing its demented sense of humor, it also gives numerous nods to familiar elements such as the Leprechaun’s obsession with shoes and of course his twisted rhyming dialogue which is always a treat in itself. It’s a faithful and surprisingly enjoyable return to formula for the franchise that should prove a real treat for fellow fans of the ‘Leprechaun’ series.
Overall, ‘Leprechaun Returns’ is a blood drenched and incredibly fun sequel that embraces nearly all of what we fans love about the series, keeping things consistently funny with its twisted sense of humor and returning focus on many big and minor elements alike that clearly showcase the creative team’s passion for the franchise. It has its hiccups and some moments that appear intended to come off as slick or funny occasionally fall flat in the worst way possible, but so many other aspects are spot-on and form into a faithful and fan pleasing sequel to the original film that’s also almost surely the goriest entry yet. ‘Leprechaun Returns’ is definitely recommended for fellow fans of the long-running franchise. It does a great job of staying true to the tone and fun of the original films and while it’s impossible to replace Warwick Davis in the title role, newcomer Linden Porco certainly impresses and does a remarkable job in his own right, especially with the shoes he’s tasked to fill (and shine) here.