Everyone is quirky, witty, sarcastic and unique, cleverly scripted to be an odd fit for a man-eating reptile flick. Lake Placid doesn’t try to hide its comedic nature, the ridiculousness of the very notion, and the humorous way the characters deal with death and destruction. It’s equal parts horror and comedy. Fonda complains, nags and screams incessantly, Platt and Gleeson bicker back and forth, Betty White (in an amusing role) curses, and Pullman keeps his cool in his usual unenthusiastic manner. Brendan Gleeson is a bit too accomplished to be involved at all, as is Mariska Hargitay (in a bit part right before becoming Detective Olivia Benson); perhaps even Betty White shouldn’t have messed with this project (“I hope the crocodile wins!”), but these interesting supporting players certainly increase the entertainment value.
Director Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part II and Part III) includes the standard horror movie jump scares, gore and suspenseful attacks, which manage to be tinged with humor as well – people continue to fall in the water (Kelly tumbles in 3-4 times herself) to bait the oversized varmint. Stan Winston’s creature effects are always exciting, and Lake Placid’s scaly antagonist is no exception. The computer graphics are effective, since they’re used sparingly, but it’s the gigantic animatronic brute that looks truly impressive. Like a cross between the Jaws shark and Jurassic Park’s T-Rex, the slimy, rubbery puppet gets some surprisingly fun moments – the best of which involves an underwater attack on Fonda and an airborne assault on the helicopter. The climax isn’t too shabby either, although the movie moves swiftly with a noticeably short runtime.
- Mike Massie