Review: Lake Placid – The Final Chapter / Cert: 15 / Director: Don Michael Paul / Screenplay: David Reed, Mairin Reed / Starring: Elisabeth Rohm, Robert Englund, Yancy Butler, Paul Nicholls, Poppy Lee Friar / Release Date: March 25th
Who would have thought a tiddly little creature feature like Lake Placid could spawn no less than three sequels? But so it has proved. In this fourth instalment, the infested lake has been sealed off inside an electrified fence erected by the army, with the crocs continuing to grow to enormous size, their stomachs grumbling as they snap up all of the local deer and turn on one another. The local townsfolk are uneasy, but there's nothing to worry about, honest.
Wait, we take that back. Because, thanks to a rubbish coach driver, a group of high schoolers on a senior camping trip wind up at the lethal lake by mistake and, as the result of a series of hard-to-swallow coincidences, end up inside the restricted zone, ready to become croc chow. These are the only teenagers in the whole world who don't carry around their mobile phones with them at all times, which means they're unable to call for help when trouble strikes. Meanwhile, that electrified fence everyone was so proud of turns out to be ideal for hemming them in and crispy-frying anyone running away in a blind panic. Luckily, the local law enforcement are no slouches and they're on the case in half a day or so.
Although it delves into the original backstory for some of its reveals, little of the quirky tone of the first Lake Placid remains. The major influence here is Alexandre Aja's Piranha remake – so we get a plucky female sheriff who's the spitting image of Elisabeth Shue's character, a my-kid-is-in-peril story arc (the sheriff's daughter is one of the campers) and a high hormone level as the teens canoodle and go skinny dipping.
There's a fair dollop of action, including a bit where one of the critters chases a 4x4, and a nasty visual pun when the group slut literally gives head to the crocs, as in gets decapitated. But it's weakened by silly implausibilities, such as the moment when a weedy 80-pound girl renders a monster croc unconscious by belting it over the head with the butt of a rifle. As for the CGI, it's variable, attractively scaly in some places but rubbery-looking in others.
Robert Englund takes time away from his easel to play a crazy old poacher, and a couple of the youngsters – notably Hogwarts alumna Scarlett Byrne –muster decent performances, so it's not all bad and anyone looking to slum it in front of the TV for 90 minutes could do worse. All the same, when the teacher in charge of the munched-upon kids remarks, “This is not going to look good on my resume”, you know he's speaking not just for himself but for the whole cast and crew.