Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin.
David Flores directed such direct-to-video and made-for-basic-cable titles as "Boa vs. Python" and "S.S. Doomtrooper"; for his efforts, he has graduated to become the helmer of "Lake Placid 2". It is, at best, a lateral move.
I have heard that a lot of people liked the 1999 comedy-horror flick "Lake Placid," although I have yet to meet any of them. But I doubt that any of those mysterious fans would appreciate this new entry, which escaped DTV-sequel status only because it first premiered on - gulp - the Sci-Fi Channel. "Lake Placid 2" is a great big pile of dumb, unable to even recreate whatever few charms some people think its predecessor had.
It's been years since those man-eating crocs wrecked havoc on a lake in Maine that is not called Lake Placid, meaning the title is both very wrong and off by three states. Sheriff James Riley (John Schneider, offering up the same folksy authority he provides in "Smallville") is hosting a month-long visit from his estranged son (Chad Collins) when he's asked to investigate a mysterious series of horrible mutilations on the lake. With the help of his park ranger ex-wife (Sarah LaFleur) and a dopey hunter (Sam McMurray, inexplicably stuck in a goofy Irish accent), Riley discovers the crocs of the first movie have spawned a handful of oversized children, and they are hungry.
The movie, penned by "Punk'd" producer Todd Hurvitz and newcomer Howie Miller, follows two parallel adventures: Riley, the ex-wife, and the hunter go on a search for the beasties, while, on the other side of the lake, Riley's son and his pals enjoy a camping trip that's interrupted when some of the teens get eaten alive. Meanwhile, Cloris Leachman pops up in a tongue-in-cheek role as the sister of the Betty White character from the first movie; she, too, is feeding the crocs, and she, too, is woefully underused in a film desperate for any sort of comic flourish. (Indeed, Leachman gets the only good lines of the picture, including a joke about how one of the crocodiles is named "George Junior," because, like our president, he's "pretty slow.")
The majority of the film is a repetitive series of set-ups and kills, with unconvincing CGI beasties constantly popping out of the corners of the screen. The movie's not even trying most of the time; often, we're being introduced to characters who barely have anything to do with anything, and we know they're only here so they can get offed in some sorta-gruesome manner. (The unrated version of the film drops in a couple minutes involving two topless models and their photographer, or something, and watching them enter and leave the film so quickly, with zero impact on the story, is like we just turned the channel to watch another bad movie for a couple minutes. The randomness of this scene is mind-boggling in its laziness.)
There are no frights to be found here, no matter how often Flores tries to throw jump-scares our way. The comedy is too overplayed to help on that end; only Leachman earns laughs (although Schneider, with a grin-and-take-the-paycheck attitude toward the role, is breezy enough to earn a free pass). The rest of the cast is clumsy and uninteresting, stuck overplaying underwritten roles, to obnoxious effect. As such, "Lake Placid 2" earns that most problematic of horror movie adjectives: it's boring.
It also has the audacity to set up a potential third film, because the producers forgot that you shouldn't hint at a sequel if you're not sure anybody will want one. And judging from this limp, cheesy franchise entry, nobody will.
Fox is releasing "Lake Placid 2" in two editions, R-rated and unrated. Both add a helping of violence not seen in the original Sci-Fi Channel broadcast, while the unrated cut also adds the aforementioned three-minute nude scene, which seems to have been dropped in from an entirely different movie. The disc reviewed here is the unrated version; the rated edition is listed as including the same extras (and, I'm guessing, features a transfer of similar quality).
Video & Audio
Despite its low budget and cheap production values, "Lake Placid 2" looks very good in this anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer, which offers such a sharp image that you can see just how crummy the CG effects are. The soundtrack, in Dolby 5.1, is sufficiently booming and crisp. Optional English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
"Sex, Guns and Croc-n-Roll" (3:59) is a stupidly titled behind-the-scenes quickie, with short on-set footage mixed with clips from the film, all set to a cheesy rock soundtrack.
"Guide to Surviving a Crocodile Attack" (3:50) pretends to offer up usable advice ("100% real," it claims), but most of it's jokey stuff relating to clips from the film. As in: a tip tells you a tree can provide temporary shelter, and then we see the scene of the teens running up a tree.
"Lake Placid 2: The 'Gnawed Up' Version" (9:05) is a one-joke bit whose one joke grows tiresome immediately: we get (almost) the entire film, with most of it in super-fast-forward (and a few shots obviously cut out), slowing down only to see the death scenes and nudie bits. This does not improve the movie.
All extras are presented in 1.33:1 full screen, with clips from the movie properly letterboxed.
A set of previews for other Fox releases plays as the disc loads.
Even if, for some reason, you admired the original movie, you'll be frustrated with how "Lake Placid 2" turned out. It's cheap and dull, never rising above the usual Sci-Fi Channel production. Skip It.