16th Feb2021

‘The Leprechaun’s Game’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Daniel Sawicki, Louisa Warren, Bao Tieu, Magda Vero, Faith Kiggundu, Zuza Tehanu, Mike Kelson, Antonia Johnstone, Chris Clynes, Mark Sears | Written by Louisa Warren, Shannon Holiday | Directed by Louisa Warren

I’ve often extolled the virtues of Proportion Productions here on Nerdly, however they’re not the only low-budget horror game in town… Britain also has Champ Dog Films. Sometimes collaborators of the aforementioned company (on films like the Unhinged remake), Champ Dog Films is led – for the most part – by actress turned producer/director Louisa Warren, whose output has varied wildly in terms of quality and storytelling… for every Curse of the Scarecrow there’s a Tooth Fairy (and its sequel). Thankfully The Leprechaun’s Game (aka Vengeance of the Leprechaun) falls in the former camp. Just. Though the film is not without its issues, mainly down to relying on the tropes of leprechaun lore.

The Leprechaun’s Game tells he story of a bunch of thieves are sent out to hunt for a leprechaun by a wealthy man, already the owner of body parts belonging to Bigfoot, the yeti and Krampus, who intends to open a museum full of mythical creatures. However, as seen in the films opening, this particular leprechaun doesn’t like anyone stealing his gold – picking the gang of one by one. Which, if like me, sounds a lot like that OTHER leprechaun franchise that was recently rebooted. Of course this has zero connection to that US-filmed series, something which is evident when you see this movies titular leprechaun…

Which is a guy in what looks like a bad halloween costume of a leprechaun, complete with ill-fitting rubber face mask and out of control wig!

And that’s The Leprechaun’s Game first problem. Why have a leprechaun who does not follow the tropes of the character? This is a full-grown man, not small leprechaun. OK, so having a leprechaun the size of regular folk probably sounded like a way to differentiate this film from others of this ilk AND makes the villain more dangerous… But then why bother even having a leprechaun as your villain? There is SOME attempt at explaining this fact, with Shawn C. Philips, aka Youtuber Coolduder, popping up yet again in a vlogger-style cameo, explaining that in this case the leprechaun is actually one of the tools of a demon, Leviathan, who collected supernatural entities for his own nefarious needs – including a leprechaun, who tried to escape Leviathan’s clutches by coming to Earth! And the gold is actually stolen from Leviathan by the leprechaun, who gets angry when humans try to steal it too!

Which means that this particular movie feels less like your typical leprechaun film and more like a traditional supernatural slasher; but that’s not a bad thing really. I’m a slasher movie fan so I can appreciate that aspect of The Leprechaun’s Game, but even I struggled to reconcile leprechaun with slasher movie villain. I honestly think Warren and co. should’ve stuck with scarecrows – after all Curse of the Scarecrow was a similar film but worked by NOT relying on the audiences prior knowledge off the tropes and cliches of the titular monster. Here that’s ALL you can think about… so-engrained are the cliches that to not follow them does the film a disservice. Which is basically a long-winded way of saying they should have hired a little person.

Though to be fair to Bao Tieu, who was great as Cupid in the 2020 film of the same name, and plays the leprechaun here, he manages to create an interesting villain with what he’s given, showing some flair in his performance that was probably not in the films script – which once again comes from Louisa Warren and co-writer Shannon Holiday, who both penned the aforementioned Curse of the Scarecrow and Tooth Fairy. And it’s Tieu’s performance, the stylistic flair he brings, plus some (I did say SOME) inventive kills, that saves The Leprechaun’s Game from being a complete letdown.

The Leprechaun’s Game is out now on DVD and Digital from ITN Distribution.

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