Lake Placid 3: Unrated
R1 - America - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (14th May 2011).
The Film

Syfy Channel may have rebranded to make the name more accessible, but they are still the main perpetrators of pumping out killer crocodile/alligator films. By now they’ve got it down to a science, people who don’t know gators/crocs encounter gators/crocs of larger than life size, panic and gator/croc attacks ensue. The plots have become so similar a group of friends and I invented a party game called “Night of A Thousand Gators” dedicated to their pattern of reptile violence: step 1, collect people and four televisons, step 2, play four gator movies at once, step 3, enjoy. “Lake Placid 3” (2010), the latest installment of SyFy’s crocodile madness, is almost indistinguishable from the others in its "Unrated" form giving you a dose of sensless nudity, poorly animated aligators and a handful of actors that you’ll recognize.

Drawing from the “Lake Placid 2” (2007), the now deceased Sadie Bickerman’s nephew and his family returns to her cabin on Black Lake to clean out her things, but decide to take up residence in the cabin. After two years of living on the lake, Nathan (Colin Ferguson) has kept up work with the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor elk in the area against poachers, while his socially awkward son Connor (Jordan Grehs) makes excursions to Black Lake to feed his new friends: crocodiles living in the lake. Though the Sheriff (Michael Ironside) has been sweeping the lake for months to make sure there are no more crocodiles, a series of attacks on Elk make Nathan suspicious. Even though Connor has been keeping the hidden crocodiles fed for years, they’ve been making excursions into random nude backpackers and elk to make the difference. Once Connor is caught stealing meat from the local grocery store and his croc feeding shenanigans stop, the crocs decide it’s time to eat the town and havoc ensues.

Just to get it out of the way: the writing, effects and acting are terrible. Ironside and Yancy Butler bring their usual gruff demeanor to the film, but they aren’t particularly interested in trying to elevate the movie beyond the paycheck it brings them. Nor should they, the quality of Sci-Fi or SyFy channel movies is kept at a consistently bad or ridiculous level for a purpose: they’re cheap to make, fill time slots and are occasionally enjoyable. Grehs is particularly terrible as a young actor who doesn’t quite understand how to pull off "acting" in the film. Sometimes it’s a gamble that you may get a great one liner or a good shot in a movie as the directors, writers and producers don’t have much to lose or gain in the process, but G.E. Furst’s directing and David Reed’s script lacks any moments that might signal a rise beyond the SyFy channel genre.

But with the SyFy genre on DVD you get some of the mainstays that keep the sales up outside of the television efforts. Not even 5 minutes in to the movie there’s your gratiutious, full frontal female nudity thrown in to appease the target 16-30 male demographic. The quality of effects and croc kills aren’t meant to inspire, but rather to advance the silly ongoing plot that gives an excuse to pull in an audience to have a good time with a few scares. Most victims are dragged away, a few in the nude, and just ripped apart underwater. Practical effects are few and far between, with an occasional elk or human head floating in the water after a slow pan. There’s one on-screen decapitation that is a nice pop, but otherwise the film is a lot of off screen gator drags and attacks.

Considering the audience, budget and space, “Lake Placid 3” hits pretty directly on the key elements of a SyFy film on DVD: nudity, bad writing, bad acting, and a little bit of gore. While “Lake Placid 3” is prime group watching material, especially for a "Night of a Thousand Gators", on it’s par for the course on SyFy and doesn’t have the sparks that could make it more classic. I appreciate that they go back to some old formulas rather than trying to keep upping the ante by increasing the number of gators rather than just pursuing the crocodiles of a ridiculous size. Of course I can only recommend watching the film with some friends, but if the moment strikes you “Lake Placid 3” can bring some serious laughs.

Video

Presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the video quality matches expectations for a Made-for-TV film, the sort of low quality grain that comes from working on a budget. The advent of cheaper high definition cameras had definitely helped in terms of the quality, but of course the visual effects suffer as the poorly animated crocs just become even more ridiculous looking on screen. This can be a part of the charm, but even on an upconversion the quality is mediocre and a bit distorted with pixilation.

Audio

With an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track the audio is about as mediocre as the visuals. Dialogue, crocodile noises and background music are fairly well balanced, but it’s the actual sound that’s flawed. The score feels ripped out of a stock sound catalogue and doesn’t really match the film. Really the problems come mostly in the original production, the transfer retains the quality of the original keeping the same mediocre standards.
There are also French, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai audio tracks, all in Dolby Digital 5.1, along with French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles.

Extras

Nothing but bonus trailers for other movies on the disc:

- “Blu-ray Disc is High Definition” runs for 2 minutes and 27 seconds.
- “Piranha 3D” runs for 2 minutes and 12 seconds.
- “Red Hill” runs for 1 minute and 40 seconds.
- “30 Days of Night: Dark Days” runs for 1 minute and 50 seconds.
- “Game of Death” runs for 1 minute and 59 seconds.
- “Faster” runs for 59 seconds.
- “The Experiment” runs for 2 minutes and 16 seconds.
- “Takers” runs for 2 minutes and 18 seconds.

Overall

The Film: D- Video: C+ Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: D

 


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