Written by: David Reed
Directed by: G.E. Furst
Starring: Colin Ferguson, Yancy Butler, and Michael Ironside
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
Don't forget you're lunch.
Fox may have taken their sweet time in tapping into the potential of a Lake Placid franchise by waiting eight years to finally produce part two, but new rights holder Sony didn’t wait nearly as long to unleash part three, which was inflicted upon the world only three years later. If that timing could be considered a mistake, it’s just about the only one they learned from, as Lake Placid 3 is more of the same old bullshit, another cheapo SyFy joint with a threadbare budget that all but sinks whatever appeal it has. Meet the new boss, same as the old fuckin' cheapskate boss.
And, truthfully, it should have a lot of appeal: unlike the previous film, this one’s not just an aggressive retread of the original. It picks up about a year later and has some Bickerman relatives picking up the pieces after dear departed Sadie’s death at the jaws of a crocodile. While the parents (Colin Ferguson & Kristy Mitchell) are caught up in the business of selling off the home, they don’t notice that son Connor (Jordan Grehs) has entered the family business of feeding baby crocs. Cut to two years later, and those babies have grown into full-fledged giant crocodiles set to devour anyone and anything that treads near Black Lake.
To its credit, the film provides an ample amount of croc bait this time around, and it’s a colorful cast of characters if only because just about everyone is contemptible in some fashion. The two Bickerman parents are downright neglectful of their son because the dad’s too busy preserving wildlife and the mom’s working real estate. To occupy himself, Connor steals meat from the local grocery store for his crocodiles, which makes him relatively noble, I guess. Less noble is this sequel’s requisite big-game hunter, Reba Butler (Yancey Butler), a self-styled “cougar” who thrives on killing things, going so far as to gloat over having slayed an animal in captivity one time (our heroine!). She’s commissioned by Brett (Mark Evans), a pathetic college student who wants to stalk his girlfriend (Kacey Barnfield) during her lake retreat with friends (all of whom are—you guessed it—insufferable twits).
If nothing else, Lake Placid 3 really invites you to delight in awful people being chewed up by gators. When typical badass Michael Ironside is the most affable guy (he’s the local but not all that badass sheriff here) in the bunch, you know something’s up. But you already know the problem: the effects for these sequences (essentially the film’s raison de etre) are goddamned terrible. The same sort of problems crop up: at no point are the crocodiles believable, nor do they hold any weight in the frame—they’re just cartoons that burst in and tear a victim apart. At this point, I can only assume it’s a SyFy mandate to embrace the horrific effects because that’s their house style, right? Occasionally, director G.E. Furst manages to hide the deficiencies by shrouding the crocs—this is especially true of the opening sequence, which has a couple of dopey kids looking to screw on the lake shore. As the girl mounts the guy, she’s unaware that he’s being slowly dragged away by a crocodile, and it makes for a decent laugh—plus, it’s a pretty wicked take on this well-worn slasher trope.
It’s just too bad these genuinely amusing moments are so sparse because these set of characters is so horrible in all the right ways (Butler’s poacher is especially indomitable). I would love to watch them die horribly because it’s only fair. On a script level, the film is eager to indulge this as well because the body count is pretty insane, and it often feels like all bets are off in terms of who bites it. For once, I was actually surprised by who manages to survive, so the film at least has a little bit of meanness in it. While that’s a far cry from the original, at least it’s something, and I’m practically scavenging just to come up with anything noteworthy about this film; like its predecessor, it also features some fine instances of aftermath gore, and the film isn’t afraid to venture beyond the lake, as the climax is set in town (well, one store, but let’s not look a gift croc in the mouth). Finally, a more urban Lake Placid (that was shot in Bulgaria, but you know).
Indeed, Lake Placid 3 isn’t just akin to scraping the bottom of the barrel—it’s more like you’ve punched right through the bottom and you’re now inclined to set the whole damn thing on fire. And yet, this is somehow an improvement over part two, which speaks volumes. Because its flaws are just as fatal, it can hardly be said to be a huge set up, but I suppose it does engender some hope that the follow-up (touted as The Final Chapter—excuse me while I go ahead and call bullshit on that) will similarly trend upwards. I’d say I’ll just settle for some better effects, but I already know that’s asking too much of this crowd, whose apparent love of making junky B-movies is only matched by their apparent contempt for making them any good. Rent it!
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