Y’know what’s absolutely fucking great about Leprechaun? Warwick Davis gets billing above the title. That’s all you need to know. When your viewing for the afternoon is a vehicle for an actor best known for playing an Ewok, you’re not in for anything resembling high art. Despite her regular appearances in the tabloids and gossip rags these days, at one point, Warwick Davis is a bigger name than Jennifer Aniston. Hell, Aniston’s original nose was bigger than her name in 1993. Bazinga. No, but seriously – this is pretty much a bunch of character actors making a b-grade horror flick, and the dwarf from Return of the Jedi was the draw.
Everyone involved in Leprechaun has a good sense of humor about the proceedings. It’s hammy as all fuck, and it has to be. Anyone who can hold up a four-leaf clover to a leprechaun like a cross to a vampire needs some silliness. Of course, this movie doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Ostensibly, it’s a fright flick, but Aniston’s playing a character that seems to be the genesis of her “frigid bitch who falls for her complete opposite” character, adding a tinge of romantic comedy to slapstick pratfalls and an overly-clever kid. It’s a hodgepodge of genres, none of which work very well. Mostly, though, it doesn’t work because it’s slow. Not much of a kill count, and the leprechaun does several kills off-screen. Fucking bullshit, that. All the blood looks like it was painted on, too. Not a gouge or slice to be seen.
The leprechaun’s rarely shown in anything but shadow for the first 20 or 30 minutes, and there’s a reason. The makeup’s pretty gruesome and creepy, as opposed to cute, which is a positive, but it’s not exactly flexible. Davis might as well be a stop-motion doll, for all the mobility and expression offered by his costume. It’s like watching an animatronic character from Chuck E. Cheese. When you finally get a glimpse, he’s more unsettling than anything you’d legitimately fear.
It’s bad. Wonderfully, ridiculously, illogically bad. A leprechaun on a tricycle (kiddie car, skateboard, skates, et al), chasing after our protagonists? Yes. Death by pogo stick? Indeed. At no point do you ever feel any sense of dread – except the possibility that you might have to watch another installment soon. I did, of course, buy the four-pack.