20th Mar2013

‘Lake Placid: The Final Chapter’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Elisabeth Rohm, Yancy Butler, Robert Englund, Paul Nicholls, Poppy Lee Friar, Benedict Smith, Caroline Ford, Scarlett Byrne, Daniel Black, Jeff Stewart, Sewell Whitney | Written by David Reed, Mairin Reed | Directed by Don Michael Paul

LP4-cast

Picking up after the third film, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter sees poacher Reba (Butler) return to Black Lake as an EPA Agent, tasked with working alongside the local Sheriff (Rohm) and a group of Army Crop engineers led by Loflin (sic), played by former Eastender Paul Nicholls. After the deadly predators’ last vicious attack, the government prevented their extermination and Black Lake is now a nature reserve, protected by a huge electric fence inside which the crocs (yes crocs, plural) have been growing to record proportions. When a group of poachers led by Jim Bickerman, the cousin of Betty White’s Delores from the original film, attempt to grab some croc eggs to sell on the black market, it leads to a high school swim team out to camp at the croc-free Clear Lake taking a wrong turn directly into the crocs hunting grounds…

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

I really enjoyed 1999′s Lake Placid (has it really been that long?) but the ever-decreasing returns on the sequels have turned what was a fun, tongue-in-cheek film into a franchise of failure – a failure to provide any laughs and a failure to provide any scares. Whilst the second film was *that* bad, the third film was instantly forgettable. Well I say forgettable, but there were two stand outs from the movie – both of which were on the chest of former Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett, who had the obligatory role as swimmer whose boyfriend gets eaten by the killer croc after a spot of beach sex. Whilst the films plot may be forgotten, I will not forget a naked Roxanne Pallet frolicking in the water…

So on to the fourth film in the series and it’s apparently the “Final Chapter” in the tale of Black Lake’s killer croc (although given the epilogue this as much a final chapter as Friday the 13th Part 4 was) as Yancy Butler returns to the lake to take on an entire family of crocodiles, both small and large, in what can best be described as “Jurassic Lake”. However Jurassic Park is not they only film Lake Placid: The Final Chapter riffs on – there are also “homages” to Piranha, Friday the 13th (think of the crocs as Jason) and even Jaws. This really is a case of throwing everything at the screen and seeing what sticks, which in this case is pretty much nothing!

By no means the worst killer croc on the rampage film I’ve ever seen (there have been plenty of Syfy original movies that take that crown), Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is at least not as bad it’s immediate predecessor, which seemed to focus more on the sleazy aspects of nubiles pre-and-post being eaten by crocs rather than scares. However this third film does share something in common with the third movie – the bizarre use of British actors in all-American roles. Here we have Paul Nicholls, probably best remembered for his role as Joe in Eastenders during the 90s, who now sports a convinving American accent sans any East-End twang, as the Army “guy” (it’s never really made clear what his rank is) and, weirdest of all, Jeff Stewart as Deputy Nermal. “Who he?” you may ask. Well you probably know him best as PC Reg Hollis in the long-running UK police drama The Bill..! Meanwhile Robert Englund channels Robert Shaw’s performance as Quint in Jaws for his role as poacher Jim Bickerman and, as she did in the third film, Yancy Butler steals the show as the gun-toting Reba. But props go to Elisabeth Rohm, as the Sheriff whose daughter gets locked in the nature reserve with the crocs, who has never looked hotter!

Whilst I had fun watching it, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is cheesy, cliched and riddled with bad CGI, hence it’s probably only for fans of the franchise or those that love creature-features. The film is released on DVD on March 25th by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

** 2/5

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