Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
WRITER: Harris Wilkinson
DIRECTOR: Zach Lipovsky
STARRING: Stephanie Bennett as Sophie
Andrew Dunbar as Ben
Brendan Fletcher as David
Melissa Roxburgh as Jeni
Garry Chalk as Hamish
Teach Grant as Sean
Dylan "Hornswoggle" Postl as the Leprechaun
QUICK CUT: A group of friends travel through Ireland growing closer and encountering some charming local Irish people along the way.
Sophie - A young woman studying history, and using their trip through Ireland to study on the side.
Ben - A bit of a spineless coward, and Sophie's boyfriend.
David - A wiry guy, but tough, loyal to Jeni, even if he's a bit of a tool.
Jeni - The closest thing the group has to a bad girl, I guess. She seems to have a rebellious streak, but is spooked easily.
Hamish - An Irishman who appears kindly at first, and indeed he is, but he will also do anything to protect his town, his home, and his family. Even if that means sacrificing the occasional tourists to the local leprechaun.
Sean - Hamish's son, and not as down with the sacrificing as his da is.
THE GUTS: And so it has come to this, Triskelions. The true revenge of the leprechauns. Just as I think I'm done, they come back with ONE MORE MOVIE in the series, Leprechaun: Origins. This sounds like a movie that will reveal the origins of the leprechaun from the Warwick Davis movies, right? Or a reboot of that franchise? Well sure, and that's what it was touted as. But let's take a look at just what we got...
The action kicks right off at full blast, with a couple running through an Irish forest, being chased by something, and to give themselves a bit more time, the woman ditches the giant bag of gold she's lugging around. Sorry, spoilers!
After getting out of the forest, they realise they're not out of the woods yet, as the guy is instantly grabbed from the brush, and dragged off to be nommed on by their unseen attacker.
The woman tries to run for it, but she trips, because they ALWAYS trip. Before she can run any further, she too gets dragged off and killed. So...not so much with the laughs and witty one liners this time, I see. But that aside, this is an absolutely solid start. You've got some good deaths to pique your interest, it sets things up, and get the ball rolling.
With the introductory canon fodder no one cares about out of the way, we get to meet our actual gang of targets, as they ride in the back of a truck on their way to a nearby town in the middle of McNowhere, Ireland.
The truck stops and drops the kids off in somehow even more middle of McNowhere, saying the town is just a short walk from where they are now. But he isn't driving there for all the Guinness in the world.
So they hike past Catherine's murder site and the standing stone, and make their way for the town, which is so not what the brochure promised. It is a real tourist trap.
But the place still has a pub, so they might as well have a few drinks while they're exploring in the middle of McNowhere, and have nothing else to do.
The locals check out the vacationing Americans, and Optimus McPrimal sells them a story when he hears one of them is studying history, and that's the whole reason they're here.
Optimus tells them about the standing stones in the forest, and how they may well be the oldest ones ever, in all of Ireland, and are TOTALLY worth checking out.
The group decides sure, let's go get stoned, and climb into the back of Hamish's truck. What is this, Ride in the Back of the Truck: The Movie?
Hamish offers them a stay in one of his cabins, so they can start their seven hour hike to the stones in the morning. And yes, every warning bell should be going off, if you're not drunk on Guinness by now.
They drive past Plot Point Home on their way, and assume that's where they're staying, but Hamish and his son drive on to a smaller, more run downier cabin. Which still isn't that bad, but after the first house, a bit of a swerve.
Just don't question the padlocks outside the door, those are totally normal. Break ins my Irish butt.
As the group is settling in, something crunches about in the brush across the road, and Hamish grabs his shotgun. With his autoguns activated, the Americans stand and watch as he shoots at whatever is out there, and says they have a wild boar problem. Riiiight.
With the kids all tucked in, Hamish heads out, and leaves his gold Rolex hanging off a nail near the door to the cabin for SOME reason...okay, it's bait. Bait for the leprechaun. I'm not beating around the bush here.
After some relationship drama between the two couples, everyone passes out, until Jeni gets woken up by some thumping, and goes to investigate alone. Here we go!
She wakes everyone up after seeing something whoosh by the window, and everyone laughs it off, since they're right by the woods. David agrees to go check it out though, and that's when they discover they've been locked in from the outside. Ahh, Irish hospitality!
Jeni backs away and sulks by the fireplace, just in time for the leprechaun to reach out of the darkness and yank off her gold earring.
They barricade themselves in one of the bedrooms just long enough to catch their breaths, and for the creature to bust in some other way. They run BACK out to the living room, and discover a secret door in the back of the fireplace, and get out that way, but not before the beast has a taste of leg of David.
So they head to Plot Point Manor, running as fast as they can, except for David. He falls behind, and two of the group keep running, including his girlfriend. Sophie is the only one to run back and help him, and hurls a lantern at the creature to scare it off with fire.
They break into the old McPrimal place, and find a series of batteries rigged up to lights outside that ring the entire property, giving them some protection, because light blocks the leprechaun. Because no one told us the rules.
Down in the cellar, the gang finds piles and piles of clothing, and shoes, and backpacks, and stuff from who knows how many other tourists?
Which leads me to some big plot point questioins here...hey, Hamish? Why keep the stuff? I mean, okay, maybe not trash it, because someone might notice everything piling into the local McLandfill, but I dunno...burn the property? Destroy all trace? If just one cop found this stash, they'd have a proverbial *ahem* gold mine of evidence.
Meanwhile, Hamish McKiller and his son wait for the screams of the dying to abate, and his pal Ian O'Complice shows up. We see that Sean isn't as bloodthirsty as his da and doesn't like what they're doing, as well as Hamish trying to justify his actions. Which I genuinely appreciate.
Oh, and also in the basement, Sophie finds a Tome of Exposition, that tells them they're facing a leprechaun, and they piece things together with the cave of gold, the locals taking all of it, and the little green guy feeling murdery because of it. And the standing stones are the boundary of where it will roam, so all they have to do is escape the stones. Oh, is THAT all?
The McMurderers have decided they've waited long enough, head to the cabin, and find it trashed, but empty. And with surprisingly little blood. The trio sees all the lights on down the road, and head there. Fortunately, our entire group is already conveniently in the cellar hiding, and they gear up with the tools.
Even more fortunately it's Sean that finds them. Unfortunately, his da is close behind, and they're held at gunpoint until they hear Ian shooting at 'wild boars' outside. Hamish runs to investigate and leaves his son to guard the cellar door.
Possibly the best moment of the movie is when the group runs to the cellar door to get out, wondering how they're gonna get out, and Sophie just goes to town on the door with the axe she found down there. "Well...that'll work." It's a solid bit of deadpan humour.
While Hamish searches for his trigger happy pal, the group gets out of the cellar, and naturally, Sean does the right thing and lets them go.
As the group finds none of the vehicles have their keys in them, Hamish finds his friend on the verge of death, and the leprechaun finds him.
The group tries to make a run for it, but David's leg is trashed, but fortunately a kindly old lady shows up to give them a ride...right back into Hamish's waiting hands because there's still 40 minutes left. Of course, David has to get in the back of the car.
Our heroes try and fight their way out, but they end up tied to trees and covered in gold bait anyways. Once the flares go out, the creature comes close, because any light scares it off. Except for sunlight, but I digress.
The leprechaun takes an interest in Jeni's gold tongue ring, and this girl sure did love her piercings, huh? And we also get what is probably the best look at the creature. The movie spends most of the time showings us blurry half out of focus shots, or extreme closeups.
I get wanting us to imagine the creature for ourselves, but this feels almost like they were embarassed by the thing, and even when they DO show it, they blur the image so we DON'T see it. Not to mention this is a waste of casting a known person like the wrestler Hornswoggle, and then using him like this.
And as if David isn't already having his own terrible day, the leprechaun comes over and slashes him in the gut as it takes the gold covering him. Oh, this also slashes David's ropes, which is good! But he better hurry, because blood loss is bad.
There is the briefest of moments, at best, where it seems like David is going to run and leave his friends, like they were going to leave him, but he instantly returns and cuts them free before the monster eats his face off.
Our remaining trio rush back to the cabin, because Sophie has a plan. Jeni will hide outside, while the other two wait and bait the leprechaun back into the death cabin, they'll lock it in, and kill it.
And the plan works! Save for one, tiny little problem; when Jeni tries to shove the leprechaun in and lock the fireplace, he grabs her and shoves her through in his stead, so she gets the axe to the face intended for the monster. I love when people die because of their friends, instead of the monster that's supposed to be doing the killing.
Sophie and Ben run for one of the trucks left sitting around, and Sophie trips, because they ALWAYS trip, but they do make it to the vechile...which STILL has no keys in it. I find it refreshing to have a movie where SOMEone can't hotwire the car.
They finally notice Ian's corpse in the shed, and Sophie makes the leap of logic that the keys MUST be on him. I'll allow it.
Sophie runs to the body while Ben keeps the thing distracted with road flares. But before we can get to the truck, we need to drag this out and chase through the McPrimal farmhouse some more. Which is also conveniently unlockable with the found keys.
The only notable thing is that Ben dies by getting his spine ripped out. Which may be the most on the nose punishment, ripping out the spine of the guy who would repeatedly leave his friends behind.
Sophie hides out in a crawlspace while the leprechaun lurks around in the shadows and out of focus some more. But because the thing has thermal predator vision, it can see Sophie's handprint, and it opens up the crawlspace.
Fortunately, Sean shows up to shoo and shoot it away. The girl runs, but she runs straight into the waiting gun of Hamish. Sean joins the party, as the leprechaun tries to figure out doorknobs upstairs.
Sean mans up, and turns the gun on his da, so Sophie can make a run for it. The family members struggle, and Hamish falls down the cellar stairs, breaking his neck. Just in time for the leprechaun to show up and eat him. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
The girl makes it to the truck and drives off, but of course the leprechaun hitches a ride until she crashes and he flies off into the fields. So it's on foot from here!
But while she's running for the standing stone marker, she trips again. BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS TRIP. At least this time there's a reason for it, and it's the bag that Catherine tossed at the start of the movie.
The couple also left behind a machete, so she tosses a handful of coins in the air to distract Hoggle, gets off her clever one liner with "Fuck you, Lucky Charms" and beheads the creature with the blade.
Sophie keeps running, makes it past the stone marker, and keeps running as we hear more grumbling in the forest. Or maybe it's the audience, I don't know at this point.
BUT she escapes, and we hope you enjoyed your stay in scenic, rural Ireland! And I swear, if there are any more evil leprechaun movies out there, DO NOT TELL ME ABOUT THEM.
Video: Big budget release from a major studio. so it looks fine. But WOW once we're out of daylight is everything kinda forever bathed in permanent dull grey.
Audio: It's on the low side for me, but otherwise fine.
Sound Bite: "Cabin in the woods? What's not to like??" Y'all have NO idea the kind of movie you're in.
Body Count: The movie may not have much actually going on, but it sure does make its way through the cast.
1 - 2:30 in, and random hiker gets eaten in the woods.
2 - And then his girlfriend gets dragged off to join him.
3 - Ian is found near death with something run through his chest.
4 - His leg gets eaten, his stomach gets slashed open, and his face gets eaten. This Ireland trip was not a lucky day for David.
5 - And Jeni isn't having much better of a day when she's had several piercings ripped out, can't talk, and gets an axe to the face.
6 - Ben gets his spine removed.
7 - Hamish gets eaten.
8 - The leprechaun gets McCleoded
Best Corpse: How do I *not* go for the sudden, random axe to the face? It's out of nowhere, it really does make you sit up, and you get a really good look at a solid, bloody effect.
Blood Type - C+: It SHOULD be higher, because there's quite a few puddles all around this movie, and the effects are pretty good, especially that head split, and the spine. But, again, the movie being in permanent dull grey takes a lot away from that. And I'd give them points for the monster, because when we see it, I genuinely like it (And the severed head looks GREAT), but again, they keep it away from us for most of the movie.
Sex Appeal: Mostly clean, the closest anyone gets is their underwear.
Drink Up! Every time you hear a bad Irish accent. Because it's an Irish movie, and you should be shitfaced.
Video Nasties: This time out, have the first real attack of the Leprechaun!
Movie Review: I saw this movie when it first came out, and let me tell you, I hated it. HAAAATED it. And I still have giant problems with it, but many of my original complaints I can set aside. I feel like this movie is SUCH a betrayal. It promises the Leprechaun. It is legitimately a reboot of the franchise I've looked at the previous two years. It's not just a movie titled Leprechaun Origins. This was put forth with a bill of goods on being connected to the original movies, and it did not deliver. If you're going to say you're connected to those old movies, you are making promises on some level, and building expectations. But as you can tell, this movie is about as far as you can get from those movies, while still having something arguably Leprechaunesque in them. And in fairness, that might genuinely be a good thing, because yes, they are indeed very silly. But still, you've gone and said this was part of the family, and there is ZERO connective tissue. I don't even think there's a reused name as a nod. NOW, if you forget all that, all the promises calling this "Leprechaun" bring with it, and take this movie 100% on it's own merits? Well...it's actually not bad. Not a whole lot happens, there are LONG stretches of running and hiding, and the plot is VERY basic, but what it does, the movie does well. This uses a lot of classic horror tropes, with the town with a dark secret, the townspeople complicit in events, and the Leprechaun could really be any generic monster stalking people, but with a taste for gold. And that's on the bad side of things, in my opinion. This is a story we've seen before, with some Irish trappings stapled on, and could just be any old monster movie. It ultimately winds up being a well made version of a well worn story, that betrays any sort of promise it made to the audience. On its own merits, it's a three out of five gold earrings.
Entertainment Value: Once I got past my hurt feelings with my later viewings, I actually found fun to be had here. The cast is solid enough, even though the character are all pretty bland and never really fleshed out beyond being scared kids on the run. I will mark out whenever Garry Chalk is in something, and it DID have some creative kills and solid gore. For a solid monster movie, it's got its fun moments. And watching this back to back with Red Clover, really showed two different ways to do a very similar plot. This is probably the better movie at the end of the day, the better made film, but Red Clover felt like a more fleshed out narrative, and was more FUN because it never took itself seriously. This is clearly in the horror wheelhouse, and it does what it does. Three out of five gold Rolexes.
If you want a solid monster movie chasing kids and good bits of gore and kills, watch Origins. If you want something more fun and occasionally silly, there's Red Clover.