Sometimes when you're looking for a good scary flick to watch, you find yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel. For many of these reviews, I like to check out old classics that I missed out on in my youth. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, but others I realize there's no pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.
Today's movie helped launch the career of Jennifer Anniston, who as we all know went on to superstardom with her role on the hit sitcom Friends, and good for her, because... hooo boy. Spawning six sequels and a reboot, it's one of the most recognized franchises in horror, whether that's for good or for ill. Well, friends, pour yourself a tall glass of green beer, because you're probably going to need it as we search for gold in 1993's Leprechaun.
As the movie opens, we see a leprechaun in his lair admiring his crock full of gold coins. We then cut to an old man named Daniel O'Grady who surprises his wife by returning home in a limousine. Shocked by his strange behavior, Mrs. O'Grady is even further amazed when Daniel reveals a sack full of gold coins. Giddily making plans for their new life, Daniel hides the gold where only he can find it. Meanwhile, Lubdan the Leprechaun attacks and kills Mrs. O'Grady. Daniel traps the leprechaun in a crate with a four-leaf clover and then collapses before he can finish it off.
Ten years later, spoiled California girl Tory arrives at the old O'Grady farm, which her father has purchased and hired brothers Nathan and Alex, as well as their simple-minded friend Ozzie, to help him remodel. Fooled by the weakened Lubdan's trickery, Ozzie inadvertently releases the Leprechaun, but nobody believes his fantastic tale. Undeterred by his friends' skepticism, Ozzie follows a mysterious rainbow and finds Daniel O'Grady's stash of stolen gold. Freed from his prison, the leprechaun leaves a bloody path as he searches for his lost gold.
Well, that certainly was... something. I'd always passed this movie up on trips to the video store because the entire concept just seemed to silly to be scary, and... well... I was right. Even at a mere 92 minutes, the movie just drags. Its attempts to make Jennifer Anniston a tough horror survivor girl is funnier than anything she ever did on Friends. And that's part of the trouble. The movie tries way too hard to be funny, and it keeps falling hard on its face.
Warwick Davis, iconic for his portrayals of small-statured characters like Wicket and Willow, plays the leprechaun. While Davis' performance is genuinely creepy in some places, I feel in this character's case that less is more. The makeup effects are quite good, and Davis is able to get some good expressiveness out of it, but it's not enough to carry the scares. Balancing laughs and scares is hard, but it can be done, and unfortunately, Leprechaun tilts the scales too heavily in favor of comedy.
If you're still reading, then my verdict should come as no surprise. I'd recommend passing on this one, unless you're looking for something to help get your Irish up come St. Paddy's Day. If comedic horror is what you're in the mood for, I'd recommend classics like Evil Dead 2, The Return of the Living Dead, or the recent screamer Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. If cheap laughs and even cheaper scares are your cup of tea, however, I won't judge you for it. But like a leprechaun's gold, I have a feeling the other seven movies in the franchise are best left alone.