OCTOBER 28, 2012
SOURCE: CABLE (SYFY)
I'm not exactly sure who the audience is for the Lake Placid movies; they're not very good followups to a not very successful original, and despite their sequel nature, in reality they're just as anonymous as any other Syfy original - is there anyone who will tune in to THIS CGI monster on the loose movie that they're airing when they usually skip them? But then again, this is Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, so perhaps they're planning on calling it a day. Certainly using this particular subtitle has never seemed silly in hindsight.
Oddly, this is the first time they've actually had an actor return. Despite seemingly being killed in Lake Placid 3, Yancy Butler returns as the tough hunter Reba, and takes on a slightly bigger role (if my memory is working, that is) in a story that, for once, acknowledges the crocodile threat that has plagued this Maine town for over a decade. They now have one of those giant Jurassic Park style electric fences that supposedly contain all of the beasts (which can't be killed because of nature and science and blahhh), so I was kind of relieved that they were at least TRYING to reward anyone who has actually watched all of these (*raises hand* - but only for HMAD purposes! I doubt I'd even have bothered with LP2 otherwise, and I certainly wouldn't have continued).
Unfortunately that's pretty much the only difference. Otherwise it's the same old shit, adults trying to capture or kill them for one reason or another, while a group of teens gets trapped in the croc's area and finds themselves being picked off one by one. It's funny how we call a lot of these movies "Jaws ripoffs" but in reality a lot of them crib from Jaws 2, in that they're more like slasher movies with with a monster instead of a guy in a mask. None of the kids are particularly interesting; they're saddled with the usual relationship bullshit (the daughter of our hero - a new character played by Elizabeth Rohm - likes a guy who is sneaking off with one of the other girls when no one's looking) and most of them are played by bland Bulgarian actors, so there's absolutely no need to care about any of these scenes beyond judging the quality of the death scenes.
And since this is a Syfy movie, there's not a lot of "quality" to them at all. Some of the IDEAS are pretty good, like when a girl gets caught in a hunter's trap and the croc jumps up to eat her head as she dangles upside down, but the terrible creature FX and oft-digital blood kills what little merit they had. I mean, I've certainly seen worse, but I'm hard-pressed to think of one really good effect the entire movie, which is sort of counterproductive - shouldn't they at least make a couple for the trailer? Instead, we get things like the opening "chase", where the heroes are driving for the safety of the fence (which has warning signs on the INSIDE! Do the crocs know how to read?) as they're pursued by the biggest of the group. But they shouldn't be so worried, since the damn thing disappears every time director Don Michael Paul (Who's Your Caddy?) cuts to a wide shot of the jeep and what SHOULD be the croc behind them. You know, so we can get a sense of things like scale and distance?
Hell, even Robert Englund seems a bit bored. Like Bill Moseley and Lance Henriksen, he's unfortunately stuck in a lot of movies that don't deserve actors of their caliber, but they all always give 100% regardless, single-handedly making their lesser movies worth a look. But I dunno, maybe it's because his character makes no sense (a hunter who wants to sell croc eggs, and even kidnaps one of the teens to help him at one point), or he just knew it wasn't worth the effort, but it's an uncharacteristically low-key turn from the icon, and (not a surprise at all) his role is much smaller than the TV spots would have you believe. Speaking of which, I couldn't find any of them on Youtube, but someone assembled all the death scenes, which is probably what most folks are only interested in anyway.
Oh, and they set up another sequel that promises more of the same goddamn thing. Yes, Friday had another 6 sequels (plus a remake and a spinoff) after The Final Chapter, and most were nothing new, but at least they TRIED to make us think they'd move on from Jason, with the "Tommy is crazy" ending of that classic (best?) entry in the series. But here, some random jogger gets killed by a crocodile in the closing moments, setting up a 5th movie that will in no way be any different than the others. One of the things that made Lake Placid 3 relatively enjoyable compared to the 2nd one is that they had some new territory, setting the finale in a grocery store and a gas station, but here it's just the woods and the lake (and, again, that old lady's house), with the town scenes kept to a minimum and without any croc action. If they DO make another of these things, can they PLEASE move away from the lake area for at least one act? And don't pull that "It's called LAKE Placid" bullshit, first of all titles mean nothing in horror (what the fuck does ANY Dimension sequel's subtitle mean?), and secondly, the town is called Black Lake anyway - the actual Lake Placid isn't even IN Maine. And like anyone watching these things is going to get picky? Set it on the goddamn moon for all anyone cares.
But then again, it doesn't matter what they do. Unless it's somehow conceived, produced, and released in the next 5 months (when HMAD ends), I'll never see it (well, OK, if they DO go to the moon...). For me, this truly is the Final Chapter. Adieu, mostly lousy series!
What say you?