This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a horror slasher film with the antagonist bumping off everyone he runs into. It’s definitely a tried and true formula for failure that many franchises have gone for. I can’t say that Leprechaun did anything to try and save the genre, but I suppose I will give it some props for at least embracing the fact that the film was never going to be good and making everyone over the top. If a film is going to be bad it may as well have some fun moments right?
The film starts off with a drunk guy beating up a Leprechaun and stealing his gold. Unfortunately it seems like the guy may have cheated so the little villain wants his gold back. The drunk guy doesn’t care about this though and locks the guy up. A year passes and some new people are moving into the house. The heroine doesn’t like the place right off the bat, but the neighbors convince her to stay. Then the Leprechaun is let out of his box and the heroes start to get murdered left and right. Can they learn how to fight in time to stop this guy or will it be curtains for them? Either way their days may be numbered.
As I said, the film is very by the books. If anyone who isn’t one of the main characters shows up, he/she is doomed. We have the greedy store owner who tries to talk tough to the Leprechaun and he is quickly destroyed by his own toys. We have the overconfident police officer who immediately starts to make fun of the Leprechaun’s size and he is done away with. The villain really didn’t like him though and makes his death the longest by far. Then we’ve got other guys running around, but you get the basic idea. Even those who survive don’t get away without a few bites and scratches.
Of course the film is super violent as you would expect. They make sure to throw a bunch of blood in every possible scene to the point where you may wonder how much of the budget was spent on the paint. That’s already going to limit the film’s possible score, but that’s not its only weakness. There is also the fact that the writing is very lackluster. Good luck finding any remotely good lines in this movie. The characters panic a lot and none of them are very smart. They don’t really know how to fight and even figure that splitting up is in their best interest. Hint…it’s not.
As far as the Leprechaun goes, he isn’t a very intimidating villain. Of course that is likely intentional, but you almost want to snicker whenever he is on screen. The characters seem to get this inclination as well, but it never goes well for them. The villain has some basic magical abilities like teleportation and telekinesis, but his abilities are very weak unless he is with the gold. Even once he is back to full power the guy never seems very impressive. Shotgun bullets will put him down for minutes at a time. Judging by how effective they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few shots at once would put him down for good. Either way, his regeneration isn’t amazing. The guy has some basic super strength as well, but it is rather inconsistent throughout the movie. He’s a step below some of the cooler designed monsters like from the Grudge, but higher than the normal humans like good ole Jason.
Tory, Nathan, and Ozzie are the 3 main characters. Tory likes to be in high class places where the area is already clean and she doesn’t have to fix it up. Naturally this place in the middle of nowhere wasn’t exactly her style, but she tries to work with it after a while. She isn’t a terrible character and the film actually avoids going into the romance trap for the most part. She is rather easy to manipulate though as when Nathan tricks her into staying at the house. Tory could have been a lot worse which is probably the nicest thing to say about her. Nathan is your typical male lead. He’s fairly well built so naturally it’s more of a shock when the Leprechaun is able to overpower him. Nathan actually does try to fight back though which is a welcome change of pace from everyone else here. He was actually winning his initial confrontation with the Leprechaun even without a gun and once he had it then the match was over. To write him out the film had him get caught on a bear trap to limit how well he could fight. Ah well, he was still doing good for the most part beyond that.
Then we have Ozzie who isn’t very smart at all. He convinces the cops not to come to the house by calling since he always calls for fake incidents. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway though since the Leprechaun would have just switched his voice like he did later on. Ozzie also managed to swallow the coin somehow which is still rather hard to believe which causes the Leprechaun to not be very happy. The kid who hangs out with Ozzie is a little more reasonable. He points out that nothing can stand up to a 57 Magnum. Still, he is annoying beyond that and seems to think that even in the midst of a monster destroying everyone he should keep a few secrets. This kid needs to get his priorities straight.
Overall, Leprechaun is not a good film. There are some films that are terrible but enjoyable and this is not one of them. It’s not as bad as some films where the whole duration is unbearable as this film isn’t terrible 100% of the time. Still, it’s brutal and graphic enough to wreck any of the decent scenes in the film and the lack of quality writing hurts it as well. It’s safe to say that I don’t recommend this film and I’d sooner recommend watching Inspector Gadget if you want to see toys used as weapons. This film just has to get the hard thumbs down. Maybe the sequels will manage to beat it, but I can’t say that I have high hopes for the films in general.