If you go into this film expecting a creepy “Jaws” like thriller you’ll likely be disappointed because this isn’t a horror movie. TV maestro David E. Kelly and Director Steve Miner set out to create a pure popcorn movie – an “Anaconda” with a wittier script that takes itself less seriously.
What we have as a result is “Lake Placid” – a monster matinee movie with some good moments of suspense and offbeat humour, but lacking a solid story to pull it altogether. Its the kind of movie that’s so intentionally cheesy its great fun. Kelly always seems to write his female leads in the same way – intelligent and good at their job, but completely neurotic, insecure and naive to the way the world works.
Bridget Fonda’s character is no different, but the actress helps make it that much more enjoyable with the help of some great dialogue and her own little bit of sassiness. Bill Pullman’s character on their other hand is as shallow as a baby pool at a local aquatic centre, one which any actor could probably have played.
Oliver Platt gives us another of his very likeable supporting character roles, this time as a rich and eccentric croc chaser. Also look for a great cameo from ex-Golden Girl Betty White who sprouts dialogue that would make a sailor blush. The main problem which this movie fails to overcome is the length.
At only 82 minutes, it seems more like a TV movie than a full on feature. The scope is quite small but that’s not a bad thing at all as any bigger would mean it would have to take itself more seriously, and thus lose that ‘X’ factor which makes it work.
The suspense in early scenes works well such as the tense opening bit, while the best nail-biting scene comes along about 30 minutes into it with Fonda trapped in the middle of the lake while the croc and the sheriff’s powerboat hurry to get to her first.
If you’re looking for a short, sharp and entertaining movie experience then this is the perfect film for you. Its a horror comedy which is just that, a fast paced hybrid of gore and laughs. The ending could’ve used some reworking to have made the big climax more satisfying, but otherwise its great fun.