Our brains need a constant level of the chemical dopamine to stay alert.
That's why people can become addicted to smoking -- nicotine gets them used
to a dopamine high which their brains have trouble functioning without. I am
a non-smoker, but now I have found a movie that made me need a cigarette, by
deadening my brain with its unrelenting dullness.
I would have settled for some popcorn, actually, or even a bag of Jelly
Babies. Anything to perk me up. But once I'm in the auditorium, the lights go
down and the film starts, I always stay put. Trapped, in this case. Agonised.
"Lake Placid" runs only 82 minutes and yet feels interminable. It's one of
the year's worst films.
It's a monster movie, I guess, although the villain is just a big crocodile
who rips people to shreds in a large stretch of water in Maine. For no
significant reason, museum researcher Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) is sent by
her boss to investigate the situation, joining wildlife experts Jack Wells
(Bill Pullman) and Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt), and grumpy local cop Sheriff
Keough (Brendan Gleeson).
The plot is a silly routine of people venturing into the water, getting
munched by the big croc and our heroes solemnly trying to conjure a solution.
Gleeson snarls over every development with a phoney New England accent. Platt
makes pathetic wisecracks. And Fonda shrieks and jumps, as attractive airhead
heroines are supposed to do in cheesy B-pictures such as this.
Steve Miner, the director of the film, and David E. Kelley, who wrote and
produced, clearly think they've made a movie that is so bad it's good. But
the untalented men, whose credits include such crap as "Halloween H20" and
"Ally McBeal", don't have the mastery of tone needed to pull off comedy or
horror, and so "Lake Placid" is flat and embarrassing. It contains neither
the silly sincerity that makes cheap horror flicks laughable nor the
entertaining cheese of films like "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?",
because the filmmakers don't have the courage to go over-the-top -- something
that is absolutely necessary to achieve their goal. Most disastrously, there
are ironic wisecracks in the dialogue, just to remind us that the film is a
comedy. It's as if Miner and Kelley knew their general approach wouldn't
work, and so threw in all the comic material they could think up, just to be
on the safe side.
Some pathetic writers will give "Lake Placid" positive reviews, just to show
they know that it's not supposed to be taken seriously. But the film is not
funny or hip, it's a miserable waste of time. Even its actors look sluggish
and depressed. Unlike us, they got paid to show up.
Copyright © 2000 UK Critic