The holidays may be fun to celebrate with family and friends, and not just the ones that occur at the end of the year, but sometimes watching a holiday themed film is even better. It doesn’t even have to be a stellar one or even one that specifically takes place on the given holiday, although when it does, it automatically makes it infinitely better. It could just be something that adds to the day and makes it mean something more than it already does, if anything at all.
The After Dark Films TV movie “Leprechaun’s Revenge” is about as bad as you’d expect, but somehow, when compared to all the others that show up on the SyFy channel as a SyFy Original Movie, it’s top notch! After missing this TV movie the first time, which I’m still not too sure how I managed to do so, I finally got a chance to sit and watch and suffer through this movie. Mind you, when I went into it, I expected as much. I can’t really blame anyone but myself. And still, I’m okay with that. When I connected the dots on what today’s holiday would be and knew that the network was airing this movie, I had no choice but to watch it. In so many ways, I’m glad I did. How often can you say that about a SyFy Original Movie?
Not Your Typical Leprechaun
If anything can count as a positive for this film, it’s that it doesn’t feature your typical idea of a leprechaun. No tiny and cute creature, or if you’re Warwick Davis, a mischievous and murderous one. No, what this film gets is some big, semi-grotesque, human shaped creature that’s quite adept at killing people at random. It may be a far cry from what the classic “Leprechaun” film series offers, which will always be bad and fun to watch, but as an alternative film and film creature to the usual horror choices, this one substitutes quite nicely. Mind you, it was a little weird to not be watching and writing about the classic Davis original film, but I figured since I’d done so two years ago, there was no need to do it again. Perhaps some day I’ll rewatch the other films in the franchise.
While I’m not too certain on what I think of the overall creature design for this leprechaun, I can say that the makeup choices to bring it to life look pretty good. At first I thought maybe I was imagining things, but as it turns out, I wasn’t. It did look good. Real even. Well, as real as a low budget made-for-TV can get. It gave you something to genuinely respond to, which would probably explain why sometimes moments were a bit more surprising and less laughable than when the creature’s a CGI one. I can only imagine how lucky the actors were to have something tangible to perform opposite, instead of the nothing or very little that most others get. No bad CGI was needed and, even for this movie, that made a difference. Somehow, just the fact that this film featured a creature with practical makeup effects made it more fun. When the leprechaun showed up on screen, for however long it was, and usually just to randomly kill someone, I got excited about it. I actually wanted to pay attention.
The leprechaun in this film also helped usher in some other spectacular moments. I mentioned surprising because, well, I was surprised. While there was execution on scares, that got a slight jump out of me, I can’t say I was expecting it. These types of films never have much to be even slightly afraid of. Again, laughter is usually all that’s achieved. Because of this alone, even though the moments were still few and far between, I could appreciate the appearance of this savage creature. He helped elevate the film a bit higher than the other creature movies shown on the network.
He also brought some silly comedy. No, not silly, ridiculous comedy. This on top of the jump scares is really the only reason my eyeballs weren’t tired or strained by the time the movie ended. One moment came directly courtesy of the leprechaun himself. He’s pulling a Davis and driving a car. A car! Not some dinky little thing, but an actual vehicle. And what does he do with it? He kills some nobody, whose name I can’t even recall at this moment. I’m sure writer Anthony C. Ferrante was aiming for deliberately funny, and that’s what he got. At worst, it wasn’t laugh out loud funny, but It’s the next best thing! The next bit is after the heroes of this movie attack the leprechaun. Sadly, as expected, a character dies. When William Devane and Billy Zane (I think it was Zane), show up, Zane asks, “How’s the kid?” To which Devane responds, “What’s his face is dead.” It’s unintentionally hilarious as it speaks to exactly how I was feeling, and I’m sure many other no doubt felt or will feel, when watching this movie. The characters are that forgettable. These small moments shouldn’t have been as amazing as they were, but because they succeeded for a mere few seconds, I find that I can enjoy the finished product even more.
Different Story, Same Everything Else
The rest is, as expected, par for the course. While it’s disappointing in some ways, isn’t it truly the reason you return to the network time and again? It’s certainly what draws me back over and over. Sure there are times when I absolutely hate what I’m watching, and know that no amount of live tweeting or alcohol could ever make it better, but I have hope. Hope that, like with Ferrante’s “Sharknado” films, the next low budget made-for-TV movie will be fun in some way. Hopefully, if I’m lucky, over the top fun!
This one, because of what I mentioned above, falls somewhere in the middle. The rest of what’s offered will have to be taken in stride. You can’t have awful fun without some other horrible elements.
And so, the remainder of this film is entirely composed of your usual elements. Bad acting, awful plot and many cliche elements, including characters. They play their respective and thinly defined parts well enough to get you into the mood for creature mayhem. Of all the the things given to pad this movie and make it seem like something exciting is going on, I’m not sure which annoys me most. There’s the whole looking for answers bit, complete with the knowledgeable older man, the characters whose names you can’t remember (which, as I write this I have no clue what even the female lead’s name was), and the random deaths, which while fun, never seem to be more than just that, random and fun. I can look past the basic plot structure, which is stop this creature, which never has a clearly defined purpose for wanting revenge, not like if this were Davis’ leprechaun, and can look past it, but if there’s not much else, how on earth can I have any fun? I can’t. Certainly not easily.
So, I’d say the worst, and most annoying, bits are the deaths, even though they are bloody and also utilize practical effects. They just occur, and while at first the cops seem to be interested and are actually investigating, eventually the focus becomes all about killing the creature. I get that, but still, to drop the investigation focus and even notice that more people have been killed elsewhere, is a bit of a stretch. But, as usual, mayhem wins out. Which is eventually how I just went along for the ride. I knew how the film would end, and while I still enjoyed the leprechaun, I couldn’t fully bring myself to be all that invested. I was merely watching mediocre acting bring to life a forgettable plot we’ve seen too many times before.
Originally Aired: March 17, 2012 on SyFy
Director: Drew Daywalt
Writer: Anthony C. Ferrante
Starring: Billy Zane, Courtney Halverson and William Devane