The Lake Placid franchise isn't dead yet. It has one last (so they claim) entry with Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, and while it looks quite slickly produced, it leaves a lot to be desired.
This is the fourth in the series, and though I have missed the second and third, I don't think the experience suffers for it. Yancy Butler reprises her role from the previous film as Reba, the mouthy, somewhat unstable game warden. She kills off a croc in a bloody convenience store right at the beginning, but soon becomes embroiled with the efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to surround the lake with an electric fence, so that the species can be studied. Ryan (Paul Nocholls) leads the engineers, with his son Max (Benedict Smith) working for him as a contractor, while Sheriff Giove (the lovely Elisabeth Rohm) worries about the safety of the local townsfolk, and specifically her daughter Chloe (Poppy Lee Friar).
Since this is a horror movie, we know that things don't exactly go as planned. Scientist Dennis (Ako Mitchell) wants to capture a croc, so he lets poacher Jim Bickerman (Robert Englund) into the enclosure. And due to Max's negligence, the gate is left open, and a distracted driver takes a wrong turn, depositing a bus full of high school students (including Chloe) at the killer croc infested lake, instead of the nice, predator free one. Blood, gore, people eating, and rescue attempts proceed forthwith.
In some ways, Lake Placid: The Final Chapter looks great. The image is crisp and bright. The sets, locations, props, etc. are all high quality, and the cast for the most part performs unexpectedly well. (Yancy Butler's performance is just weird, however, bitterly spitting out her lines every time she opens her mouth. Though, it seems that the writers took pains to give her the worst written, most clichéd dialogue possible.) Elisabeth Rohm and Robert Englund are pros. They've been doing this a while, and unfortunately have had in the past to make do with somewhat less than stellar material, so they're used to this kind of thing. They do the best that can be expected of anyone. And the rest of the cast do pretty well too.
Now for the bad stuff. Most obviously, the CG crocodiles are awful. They look very fake and do little to inspire any real fear in the audience. The blood and gore effects are okay, but they are mostly CG as well, and stand out as artificial. Also, when major plot points depend on people being unbelievably stupid and unobservant, it tends to diminish the verisimilitude. There are lots of false character beats as well. The story is awkward and forced, and the energy and efforts of the actors simply can't get it to make sense or seem natural. Is this a legitimate complaint about a cheaply made killer croc movie? Probably not, but it doesn't help when it feels like the producers didn't care enough to meet the basic requirements of storytelling.
There's plenty to be annoyed at in Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, but also some things to enjoy, so it's not a total loss. Rent it.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and looks quite good. The colors are luminous and the image is very crisp. Unfortunately, the CG effects are so bad, that this surrounding quality only highlights their shortcomings.
Audio is Dolby digital 5.1 channel, and also sounds very good, but is not exploited to its full extent. Dialogue is always clearly audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. Subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai are included, and alternate language tracks in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai.
The only extras included are trailers for Company of Heroes, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Iron Man - Rise of Technovore and Kill For Me.
Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is not a good movie. It's not particularly scary or funny, but is at times somewhat enjoyable. If you keep your expectations low, this one won't hurt too badly.