Leprechaun (1993)
Leprechaun (1993)

Genre: Fantasy and Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: January 8th, 1993 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Mark Jones Actors: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Mark Holton, Robert Gorman, Shay Duffin, John Sanderford

 


 

A

hairy, wrinkled, beastly little leprechaun (Warwick Davis) descends into his dim hovel to count the gold coins that fill black pots on the floor. Some time later, Daniel O’Grady (Shay Duffin) drunkenly stumbles onto his stoop, much to the consternation of his disapproving wife (Pamela Mant). After returning from Ireland, where he was supposed to tend to the death of his mother, O’Grady brandishes his own sack of gold, sneakily purloined from the leprechaun. He happily gloats about having captured the mischievous troll, forcing it to lead him to its treasure. Dan’s big mistake, however, is to bring the leprechaun back with him, locked in his suitcase. As a result, the wee monster causes the death of Mrs. O’Grady, though Daniel is able to thwart the creature with a four-leaf clover and seal it in a wooden crate, where it remains for a decade.

Tory Reding (Jennifer Aniston) groans over having to journey with her father (John Sanderford) to North Dakota for the summer. The old O’Grady place is no picnic; it’s far from the happening spot of Los Angeles, where Tory is more at home, surrounded by the comforts of a swimming pool, shopping malls, and cable television. She’s all set to bail when she literally bumps into Nathan Murphy (Ken Olandt), the boy next door, whose smile and physique are hard for her to dismiss. In no time at all, Nathan and Tory team up to open the leprechaun’s crate, tucked away in the basement, unwittingly unleashing little horrors on the unsuspecting neighborhood.

“We found this gold! Finders keepers!” The acting isn’t immediately terrible (Aniston is clearly better than this casting decision would denote, particularly with her sarcasm, which would be put to good use the following year in “Friends”), though supporting characters of Ozzie (Mark Holton) and Alex (Robert Gorman), bumbling hired painters, are genuinely annoying. They’re included for comic relief, but this sole purpose makes them entirely pointless – it’s inherently difficult to take any of this premise seriously. So much of it is comical that the exaggerated foolishness of these bumpkins detracts from the mild chills – and they get far too much screentime for frequent, absurd distractions.

The antagonist himself is reasonably well designed, with makeup by Gabe Bartalos, and he’s portrayed with a fitting depravity and a sharp cackle by Davis (who rightfully gets top billing). The music that seems to follow him around isn’t half bad, either. But the scares are limited, partially due to a small body count, and primarily thanks to poor staging and ridiculous concepts. Rather than portraying realistic violence, writer/director Mark Jones opts for death scenes that mirror his minuscule villain’s frolicsome devilishness: an antiques dealer is trampled by a pogo stick and a police officer is pranked into exhaustion. The leprechaun’s unspecific magical powers come into play too often as well, and his desire to clean shoes certainly doesn’t help with the frights.

During one fight sequence in particular, when the foursome of ham-handed residents attempts to beat the hobgoblin with sticks and stones, the whole skirmish (which goes on for entirely too long) becomes especially hokey and insincere; there’s too much light, the editing is shoddy, and the choreography betrays the inability of all parties to do battle. Additionally, it doesn’t make sense when the creature clamors into a wheelchair to chase after Tory’s Jeep, since mere moments before, he teleported onto the back of the vehicle. If “Leprechaun” was either considerably goofier or significantly more horrifying, it might have worked – but its desire to be a horror/comedy hybrid is its undoing.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10