Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Lake Placid: Legacy—A Franchise Nadir

There were never any killer crocodiles in Upstate New York—only a few mutant alligators in the City sewers. For the most part, the Lake Placid franchise has been set around the fictional Black Lake, Maine. The latest Syfy-produced sequel heads to points unknown, way off the grid, where the Meg-like crocs all began. Wherever it is, it should have stayed off the grid. Hardcore fans will be disappointed there are no “Bickermans” this time around, but causal viewers will also have plenty of reason to feel let down when Darrell Roodt’s Lake Placid: Legacy (trailer here) releases today on DVD.

In a bit of a departure from previous films, nobody will care if any or hopefully all of these characters die. That is because we are about to follow a gang of eco-terrorists and the online “journalist” doing their PR, as they attempt to plant their Black Flag in a remote, mysteriously chained off lakefront facility. They claim they will expose the truth, but it turns out limiting access to the place was really the more responsible thing to do. Alas, by the time they figure that out, they are running for their lives from a giant crocodile with prehistoric DNA spliced into his genetic code.

Why would the Big Pharma company that closed up the joint do something crazy like that in the first place? Frankly, Jonathan Walker’s screenplay has a real hard time explaining why they would do such a thing. Henderson, the undercover corporate stooge offers up some double-talk about potential medicine from their stem-cells, but seriously, how many life-saving drugs have been developed from mutant monster stem lines? Eventually, the movie just gives up, wailing “drug companies just do bad things.” Oh, you mean they’re like the government?

Despite going to SyFy and direct-to-DVD distribution with the second film, the Lake Placid films have featured some interesting genre actors, like Robert Englund, Michael Ironside, Yancey Butler, and Cloris Leachman. Unfortunately, all Legacy has is Joe Pantoliano in what amounts to an extended cameo as Henderson. He doesn’t really get a chance to build up that nervous energy he is known for, probably because he was trying to get out of there as soon as possible.

The featured cast is almost as dull as the lifeless story. Previous Lake Placid films have had a bit of humor, but this is a mirthless affair. Craig Stein’s Spencer is probably meant to be comic relief, but his loud-mouthed complaining is a painful chore to sit through.

Use of the word “placid” was always ironic, but in this case, it should be called “Lake Insipid.” This is a bad film, but it is probably not as cheesy as Roodt’s Winnie Mandela film. At least in this case, the monster made the world a better place by eating a bunch of eco-radicals, so you go Meglo-Croc. Not recommended, Lake Placid: Legacy releases today on DVD.