Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
Amazingly, Leprechaun: Origins, the seventh film in the series, is the my first encounter with the nasty little guy. I knew Jennifer Aniston was in one of them, and that Garth (from Wayne’s World), is terrified of “the Leprechaun man.” But I guess I just found it hard to fathom that a Leprechaun could be the subject of a horror flick, let alone seven.
And look, anyone saying that they expected Leprechaun: Origin to be any good is obviously lying. I knew I was going to see horror cliches galore, experience some cheap thrills (and maybe laughs), and witness a lot of stupid people getting killed. And that’s more or less what I got.
In typical fashion, the film starts off with some people in an Irish field being hunted down by an unseen force. Then flash to the present day and a bunch of American tourists somehow find themselves in an old wood cabin. No prizes for guessing what happens next. You’re on the right track if you said a lot of screaming, panicked running and unfathomably stupid and illogical decision-making.
The weird thing about the film is that the leprechaun looks nothing like what you would expect and pretty much has zero to do with the original Irish legend. You could have easily taken out the small handful of leprechaun references and called the movie something else entirely — and no one would have noticed. Or cared.
I want to say Leprechaun: Origins is a serviceable horror flick, but unfortunately, it fails badly on the scare test. There are no thrills to be found in the 90-minute running time, and nothing new or original to keep things interesting. All the laughs are unintentional and the “creature” felt somewhat derivative. I didn’t expect much from the characters and they fulfilled those expectations.
And yet I can’t really call Leprechaun: Origins a failure because it more or less succeeded at what it set out to be — a low budget, straight-to-DVD/VOD horror that will keep you occupied for an hour and a half.
2 stars out of 5
Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (2014)
Just how many wrong turns can one make? Back in 2003, I was thoroughly freaked out by the original wrong turn, starring The likes of rising stars Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington and Emmanuel Chriqui. This was before the high-profile remake of the Hills have eyes, so the idea of inbreeding, mutated, cannibalistic hillbillies was a relatively fresh one.
Eleven years later, we have been blessed with Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort. I had no idea there were so many sequels, but it was available, so I thought why the heck not?
This time, a bunch of young people head to a mansion resort owned by the family of inbreeding freaks. For some reason, two of them, a man and a woman, look normal — and they are the ones who deal with customers — but the rest of them have horrible disfigurations and hide out in the woods with axes and homemade weapons waiting to pounce on unsuspecting visitors.
By the time The horror franchise reaches its sixth entry, you know it has likely entered parody territory. Wrong Turn 6 is no different. It’s over-the-top, gory, cheesy, and full of unintentional humor. The special effects and make up are low budget, and the acting is, let’s just say, subpar.
On the other hand, this is a film that knows exactly what its audience wants: gruesome deaths, stupid characters you actually can’t wait to see get slaughtered, copious amounts of screaming, and of course, plenty of gratuitous nudity and sex. If you go in wanting and expecting all these things then you’ll get what you want.
2 stars out of 5
The Scribbler (2014)
The Scribbler makes a whole lot more sense when you find out that it’s based on a graphic novel. It’s no doubt stylish, but it’s also very messy, weird, and ludicrous, so much so I don’t quite know what to think of it.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Daniel Schaffer (who also penned the adaption script), The Scribbler tells the story of a young woman named Suki (Kate Cassidy), who is committed to a mental institution because of her multiple personality disorder. While there, she undergoes treatment by a machine called the Siamese Burn, which is supposed to kill off all her made up personalities. Following the treatment, she is sent to a destitute halfway house full of oddball characters who suddenly start dying one by one upon her arrival. Has the treatment made her go batshit insane, or is there another killer on the loose?
It sounds like a pretty cool premise, right? That’s what I thought so too. The film experience, however, was not quite like what I expected. The Scribbler is one a trippy ride that feels like it’s being told through the eyes of an insane person. The story is wacky and the characters are wackier, resulting in a film that’s all over the place and perhaps intentionally so. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and has moments of fairly well-executed humour, though the laughs tend to be of the kind you’d get from watching a room of mental patients saying and doing crazy things.
Later on, as the mystery deepens, The Scribbler gets even loonier as it launches into video game territory. In some ways the final climatic sequences reminded me a little of Sucker Punch, that other grungy graphic novel adaptation about loony girls that was panned for being all style and no substance.
Kate Cassidy (whom I only remember from Gossip Girl) is actually very good in a difficult role that mixes neuroticism with sexiness and action. I was also surprised by how many other relatively big names there are in the cast, including the likes of Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Billy Campbell, Gina Gershon and porn star Sasha Grey.
As different and stylish as it is, I can’t say I enjoyed the movie though. I like a bit of craziness every now and then, but The Scribbler was just too much madness for me.
2 stars out of 5
Sniper: Legacy (2014)
You might remember a film called Shooter starring Marky Mark Wahlberg released in 2007. That film was about a sniper.
For some reason, I thought Sniper: Legacy was a sequel to that film. As usual, I was wrong. It’s actually the sequel to the 1993 film Sniper, which I only vaguely recall and may or may not have seen. That film starred Tom Berenger, back in the day when he was still kind of a semi-borderline A-lister. Apparently there were a couple of sequels to that, though the franchise has been lying dormant for about a decade, with the exception of 2011’s Sniper: Reloaded, the first film in the series without Berenger.
This latest entry brings Berenger back as the headliner, though he’s more of a publicity booster than anything else. The protagonist of the movie is his son, Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins, who was apparently introduced in Reloaded), also a pretty good sniper in his own right. Word is that a rogue assassin is taking out military leaders and that Brandon’s famous dad, Thomas, might be the only one with the skills to carry out these kills.
I have reason to think that the original Sniper might have been a good film, or at least a cult classic. Two decades later, however, Sniper has become a “keep gettin’ ’em checks” franchise living off its former goodwill. I don’t know if fans of the first three or four films will enjoy Sniper: Legacy, though I am pretty sure that ordinary audiences will find it less then inspiring.
The entire production feels like a straight-to-video, B-grade action thriller, though to be fair, that is exactly what it is! The acting is wooden, the dialogue is cliched and the most important attribute, the action, is average at best. In fact, some of the scenes look as though they were filmed in someone’s backyard.
If you like the Sniper franchise or sniper films in general then you might not mind Sniper: Legacy. Otherwise, stay clear of this time-waster.
1.5 stars out of 5