Judge Daryl Loomis has a rash on his hand, but it's definitely not caused by a plant.
Evil has a new holiday.
If I paid attention to what aired on Syfy, I might not get the occasional burn when I receive one of their "movies" for review. When they're advertised as SyFy presents, there's no doubt and I won't come anywhere close to it. But Red Clover is a double deception. First, and the way I've been fooled before, is that it appears as an After Dark Original, which doesn't guarantee a good movie, but is a pretty reliable label. Second, its name got changed in the transfer from television to DVD, so even if I could have recognized its original title, Leprechaun's Revenge, I wouldn't have known about the name change. Luckily, this isn't as plainly awful as almost everything that airs on that network, but that doesn't mean it's very good, either.
The local legend of a small Massachusetts town tells of a leprechaun that was captured in Ireland and brought over by the immigrants on the boat. By abusing the creature's luck, the town got rich, but the leprechaun got mad and took revenge. They corralled him, burying him under the dirt, where he stayed for hundreds of years. But now, when her crazy drunken grandfather (William Devane, The Dark Knight Rises) takes her out hunting in the woods, Karen O'Hara (Courtney Halverson, Godspeed), ancestor of the man who buried it, gets attacked by a newly risen leprechaun. Now, with the reluctant help of her sheriff father (Billy Zane, Titanic), they must reassemble a set of horseshoes to stun the beast and rebury it.
That may sound terribly convoluted, and it is, in reality, more so, but when you compare it to what SyFy normally airs, it actually comes off as a pretty coherent picture. But this is in comparison to things like Sharknado (which is actually referenced in the movie and is the moment I knew for sure where this came from); objectively, it's a pretty poor movie, though not a total failure.
The plot is totally silly and makes no sense, but really isn't trying to be a comedic horror movie. As I learned from the commentary track, director Drew Daywalt (Stark Raving Mad) wanted to make a more serious picture, but Syfy's requirements—which apparently include both stupidity and a murder before every commercial break—made him abandon his idea and go with something considerably dumber than it might otherwise have been. There's nothing inherently wrong with doing something about a legendary monster; it's been done many times, though the well might have been poisoned by Warwick Davis's terrible franchise. It's the execution that counts, and Red Clover is deficient on many levels.
It's flatly directed with some pretty bad dialog and the flat style that the network has decided is their bread and butter, but it's generally less cheesy than they normally air. The rubber-suited monster actually looks pretty cool, although they show it too much (another SyFy requirement) to reveal the cheapness of it. The best part, surprisingly enough, is the acting. Courtney Halverson is a solid, if unspectacular lead, but gets her sweetness and the danger she's presented with across perfectly well. Billy Zane and William Devane are nice touches and it's a wonder they agreed to be in the film, but everybody needs a payday, I guess. Plus, for those who care, the body count is very high and the gore, while cheap, is plentiful.
The DVD for Red Clover comes from Lionsgate and is a decidedly average affair. The 1.78:1 anamorphic image has that oh-so-lovely television quality to it that everybody's looking for in their movies. Colors and black levels are fine there are no real compression issues or digital artifacts, but nor does it have the clarity or detail one wants. The surround and stereo mixes are nearly identical, though there's a bit of ambient sound in the 5.1 track, but there's little to write home about with either track.
The only extra beyond a trailer is an audio commentary featuring Drew Daywalt, Courtney Halverson, and creature effects designer Jeff Farley. They're friendly and informative, but the talk is a pretty standard discussion of a pretty substandard movie.
Red Clover might be one of the best movies in recent SyFy history, but that still makes it far under the level of most direct-to-DVD releases. There are some enjoyable parts and a pretty cool looking monster, but it's something that everybody would be better off skipping.
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