Written by: Paul Matthews
Directed by: David Lister
Starring: Veronica Hamel, Jack Scalia, David Warner
Summary: Two American children join forces with a leprechaun to stop a banshee from ruining the Irish countryside.
I didn’t find the film creepy, per say, but it is oddly formed. Superficially, the story is relatively simple, telling of a banshee who plots to flood a section of Ireland and two American children who join forces with a leprechaun to stop her. The film features one character actor who can be genuinely superb, the grim-visaged David Warner, who has a long history of bringing unmistakable menace to his performances. A lot of the film consists of the children running from the banshee and Warner around an Irish country house, and that’s fine — a lot of children’s movies consist of children just running from one place to another, and this can be done well.
But it all seems sort of muddled here. The banshee isn’t like the banshee of Irish legend, who sang a haunting tune as an omen of impending death. Instead, she is a water witch who tends to shriek a lot — despite a game performance by Veronica Hamel, she’s mostly defined by shrill howling and by eccentric wardrobe choices.
The children don’t have much by way of personality either; they mostly seem defined by one being a boy and the other being a girl. There is a cleverness to them, in that they figure out what’s afoot pretty quickly, although this seems to be more a function of plotting than of any real genius. They aren’t the real engines of the story, anyway; they can throw pies at the banshee, but she’s a magical creature, and it will take another magical creature to stop her.So we have a leprechaun, and, to the film’s credit, it’s a good one. The role is played by Yorkshire-born actor Mick Walter, credited as Big Mick, and while he never really manages an Irish accent, he gets everything else right. Unlike the banshee, this is a leprechaun that seems inspired by actual Irish myth, and his day-to-day life seems to consist mostly of stealing stuff from the farm and leaving gold behind as payment.
Finn dresses in ratty old Regency clothes that seem especially elfin, and he wanders around muttering to himself like a tiny Popeye. He lives in a little hobbit-like warren under a tree filled with Rube Goldberg-style mechanical devices that suggest a fantasy alternative to steampunk. He will occasionally launch into odd little jigs when happy, and they couldn’t be any more lerpechauny. Big Mick’s version of a leprechaun often seems transplanted from another, better movie, a film in which both production design and performance conspired to bring Irish folklore to life. I wish I had seen that film.