Warwick Davis (whom many will, like me, fondly remember as Wicket the Ewok from “Return of the Jedi”, others not so fondly) stars as the titular malicious, bitter little Irish fairy accidentally unleashed on modern North Dakota, USA, townsfolk. A Pre-“Friends” Jennifer Aniston plays a young woman who has recently moved from the city with her dad. She teams up with a local hunk, a well-meaning mentally handicapped fella (Mark Holton), and his pre-teen buddy (Robert Gorman), to ward off the vicious, Guinness imbibing pixie, who wants his pot ‘o gold back…or else.
This directorial debut by writer-director Mark Jones is the butt of many jokes, and whilst it is true that some of the sequels are actually better (“Leprechaun 3” comes to mind), this is a cheap but watchable flick nonetheless. So long as you know what you’re in for- yet another variant on “A Nightmare on Elm St.” and “Child’s Play”.
Oddly enough, it is the acting that proves strongest here. Aniston, never my favourite actress, shows definite signs of her soon-to-be standard persona and mannerisms, thusly one must say that her performance here is better than the usual for this sort of thing. She’s very professional under the circumstances. As the titular villain, a heavily (and impressively, given what must’ve been a meagre budget) made-up Davis gives the role everything he’s got, and then some. Sadly, most of his slasher-inspired one-liners are simply awful. The pogo-stick scene, however, is a classic for that sort of thing.
Jones, quite frankly, doesn’t cut it as a genre filmmaker, and it plays somewhat flatly and unoriginally. Had he set the entire thing in Ireland as a mostly straight horror entry, or played it entirely for laughs in the modern setting, it may have been an improvement. But setting it as is, in modern USA, with stock characterisations (the big-hearted retarded guy, the kid, the hunk etc.) it comes off like a sub-standard “Critters” meets “Child’s Play” on “Elm Street”.
In spite of its mediocre writer-director, this film is still not awful for this sort of thing (that Leprechaun sure has some hostility issues to deal with!), and works well enough for the undemanding. Hey, at least it doesn’t suck as badly as Jones’ other film about a savage little person, “Rumpelstiltskin”. If you’re in a silly mood…