Backpacking through the lush Irish countryside, two unsuspecting young couples discover a town's chilling secret. Ben (Andrew Dunbar), Sophie (Stephanie Bennett), David (Brendan Fletcher) and Jeni (Melissa Roxburgh) quickly discover the idyllic land is not what it appears to be when the town's residents offer the hikers an old cabin at the edge of the woods. Soon, the friends will find that one of Ireland's most famous legends is a terrifying reality.
Is this film racist? The story involves a remote Irish village full of portly, suspicious middle-aged old-world types which is visited by a group of American friends who are young, casually confident and beautiful. It reminds me of old Universal films where Wales would be represented by a studio backlot and frequented with Americans, Scottish and comedy cockneys. The earlier films can be forgiven because of their naivety, made at a time where the world wasn’t quite the open book it is now with the advent of economy travel and the internet. ‘Leprechaun: Origins’ initially appears to be an exercise in contrasting a ‘civilised, acceptable’ world where everyone is young and perfect (good) and a ‘lesser, foreign’ world where everyone is backward, stupid and no-one is younger than 50 (bad). To use a frequently (and inaccurately) used word, I find this vaguely offensive.
‘Leprechaun: Origins’ is part of a series of films and is the only one not to star Warwick Davies in the titular role (the Davis films are a lot better than this, going by reviews). It is entirely formulaic with cries of ‘awesome’ (when giggling at the backward locals) being replaced by ‘Holy fuck’ (when the Leprechaun starts killing the squealing youngsters).
It’s directed very nicely and lit in a way to make the pretty people even prettier (there’s clearly been a decent budget here), even when in underwhelming dire straits. The leads offer nothing beyond some distressed pouts and some impressive screaming. One of the most ingenious aspects of the film is how the Director manages to find ways of avoiding showing the creature – a blurry image here, glimpse of a claw or profile there; there’s one amusing moment when two of the hapless leads attempt to axe the Leprechaun but succeed only in killing one of their companions instead.
Remember, kids, don’t go to Ireland if you want to stay pretty!