Cast: Katherine Barrell, Tim Rozon, and Sai Bennett
Director: Darrell Roodt
89 minutes (15) 2018
Sony DVD Region 2
Review by Jeff Young
A consistently amusing Hollywood monster movie, Lake Placid (1999) was about a giant crocodile, discovered in quiet waters, whose rather unsettling and ultimately man-eating presence proved to be typically stifling in US rural setting, and it enlivens the otherwise routine lives of a mixed group of scientists, park rangers, and local lawmen, all trying to catch it or kill it. A-list stars Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda are quite amiable leads, and the picture’s special effects were outstanding for such obviously B-movie exploitation material. Although the entertaining adventure unfolded with blatantly formulaic rules and it eventually succumbs to a predictable ending, lots of situations offered a delightful blend of horror and humour with a commendable lightness of touch. The original is well worth hunting down if you want likeably brainless fun that won’t disappoint a family audience.
TV-movie sequels followed with diminishing returns: Lake Placid 2 (2007), Lake Placid 3 (2010), and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012), followed by Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (2015), and the latest addition to this busy franchise, Lake Placid: Legacy (2018). Shot in South Africa, this misadventure claims to follow directly on from events of the original feature, but without including any of the Bickermans, the family whose actions linked the previous movies together. It is nevertheless competent as a monster movie about a 50-foot beast with routinely annoying kids that go trespassing in a clearly quarantined area where the giant, man-eating croc lives.
They find a bunker complex, seemingly abandoned 20 years ago, and then descend quite recklessly into darkened tunnels of the giant creature’s lair. Minotaur maze mythology is touted by allegorical subtext and then flaunted by reference in dialogue, just in case any viewers missed its subgenre relevance. There’s a frantic search for a way out, and any exit will do while misfortunes jinx or dog even their most promising escape routes, and tensions increase to fragment any cooperation between the desperate survivors.
A directorial focus upon characters and their various interactions, with sisterly mutual dependence in marked contrast against macho rivalry of buddies, sadly inhibits much genuine suspense here, so that rather too much of this plays like an urban exploration drama of endurance gone wrong, boasting a few slasher movie thrills (complete with ‘final girls’) that distinguish the mayhem of its explosive climax. Joe Pantoliano appears in a pivotal sequence to explain the corporate back-story elements. Special effects for the dinosaur hybrid creation are pretty good, although the film-makers do tend to rely upon concealing shadows and low-lighting to mask any flaws in these visuals.