Studio: After Dark Films
Director: Drew Daywalt
Writer: Anthony C. Ferrante
Producer: Alan Amiel, Katerina Slantcheva
Stars: Billy Zane, Courtney Halverson, William Devane
An Irish family unearths a dangerous leprechaun and a deadly curse after a young girl picks a red clover in the forest.
Call me a snob, but unless your leprechaun-related horror movie takes place in the same continuity made famous by Warwick Davis and Jennifer Aniston, then chances are I will be even less interested than I was when that preferred incarnation of the Irish myth went into outer space. Nevertheless, SyFy and After Dark Films joined forces for a take on the fabled creature only slightly more serious than the film series that saw not one, but two ill-fated trips to the hood.
Courtney Halverson plays teenager Karen O’Hara. If you read this before watching the movie, you will either thank me for that sentence or think I am a fool for having to mention it. When Karen is introduced in a scene where she refers to William Devane’s character as “Pops,” I assumed they were father and daughter. So after Billy Zane shows up with a matching last name, the next logical conclusion was that Zane must be Karen’s brother. Except he starts calling her “honey,” which moved him over into boyfriend/husband status. Then he made her breakfast before she went to school and it was finally clear that Karen was Zane’s daughter and Devane’s granddaughter. This is the kind of confusion that takes place when twentysomethings are cast as high school teens.
The other important thing to know before going into “Red Clover” is that it was written by Anthony C. Ferrante, who went on to direct “Sharknado” (review here) a year later. That is either good news or bad news, depending upon personal tastes, but it should be enough information to have expectations tailored accordingly for this film. In fact, Ferrante even foreshadows his cult classic epic with a brief dialogue exchange that name drops “sharknado” in reference to a storm that brings sharks to a lake. Did someone just want to see if this throwaway one liner could be turned into a real movie as a lark?
Karen picks a red clover while hunting in the forest with Pops and unknowingly unleashes an evil leprechaun that had been buried there by her ancestors. The mythical creature in “Red Clover” will not be rapping or appearing on cereal boxes any time soon. This is a version of the Irish legend depicted as a feral entity conjured from gnarled wood and sans a green hat or shiny brass belt buckle. While the sinister leprechaun busies himself with killing townspeople and fishermen, Karen and her family have four days to figure out how to reverse the curse and put him back in the ground where he belongs.
“Red Clover” starts with dire enough straits, but abandons its straightforward approach before the midway point in favor of trying to have more fun during the latter half. It is a decision that is for the better as the reliable actors mix the right amount of serious and flippant for a tone fitting of a movie about a killer leprechaun. Everyone is acutely aware of the level of production they are on and gives their roles exactly what is required without leaving an impression that they cannot wait for the gig to be over.
A few scenes appear to be ad-libbed as well, although the script already crackles with a surprising amount of self-aware humor. This example exchange illustrates exactly what I mean about both the actors and the characters knowing exactly what kind of movie they are in:
Sheriff: “What if I told you that I just saw a leprechaun?”
Deputy: “Are you kidding me? I’d say, what the hell is wrong with you.”
Sheriff: “Yeah, that’s about right.”
Not everything about the story makes sense. For one thing, Karen takes it surprisingly well when every person close to her is eviscerated in front of her eyes one right after another by a fairytale creature. And not everything about the production makes sense either. For some reason, “Red Clover” uses more wipes than a nanny in a room full of newborns every time there is a scene transition. But the movie is everything that is to be expected from a horror story about a deadly leprechaun. It has humor, a few splattery kills, a solid acting roster, and a shout out to Silver Shamrock of “Halloween III.” “Red Clover” is as good as any other monster movie on SyFy and it is certainly no worse than any of the entries in that “other” series of films about killer creatures from the Emerald Isle.
NOTE: “Red Clover” originally aired on SyFy as “Leprechaun’s Revenge.”
Review Score: 65