“The Final Chapter” when it comes to film titles is almost always a lie – take Friday the 13th (which has had 7 films since its final chapter), Saw, The Omen, Puppet Master…okay, “Amateur Porn Star Killer 3: The Final Chapter” (a real film, apparently) is the exception to the rule. But you get the idea. It’s a marketing ploy, pure and simple, to get people who enjoyed the first film in a series back on board. And given I’m writing this, it worked on me.
Without having seen parts 2 or 3 (I’m okay with that life choice), it would seem that this one starts the instant that part 3 ends, with Yancy Butler (remember her from “Witchblade”?) waking up from a seemingly fatal encounter with a croc, finding it still alive and shooting it again. She’s a poacher turned gamekeeper, literally, and the events of previous films have led to the main croc lake being entirely surrounded with an electric fence. We also get British former soap star Paul Nicholls playing…you know what? I must have not been paying attention when they said what his job was. He’s not the Sheriff, he’s not the gamekeeper, maybe he’s in charge of the fence? He’s there, and he’s eye candy, and he can carry a gun, and that’s all we need to know. The Sheriff is played by Elizabeth Rohm, formerly of “Angel”, a few years of “Law and Order” and a bunch of other things, including my dreams J She’s lovely, and despite being far too glamorous-looking to be the sheriff of some rural town, performs like someone who’s not aware her career has hit the “part 4 of giant monster franchise” level.
Yancy Butler strolls round, being a wisecracking badass and doing a terrible job of it (while she can do physicality well, the quips and one-liners do not suit her at all), and the crocodiles stroll round being almost entirely silent. Not even the sound of them disturbing the undergrowth is heard as they sneak up on their prey, and they’re also apparently mostly invisible (even if you’re looking fairly close to where they are, you won’t see them until they try and carry you off). If the idea of giant lumbering creatures being almost invisible and making no sound is okay with you, you’ll do fine with this film.
After all this delightful setup, the film then breaks down into three different parts, presumably for budget reasons (the three groups don’t meet up again until right at the end). We have the kids first – the Sheriff’s daughter, Nicholls’ son, and their schoolmates, off on a camping trip to a different lake with a different beach. I need to relate this bit as it’s so brain-buggeringly stupid – the bus driver, possibly in the film to remind us of the first one’s Oliver Platt, is a bit of a rubbish pervert, watching a woman in her underwear gyrate via his phone while driving. After almost crashing, he puts the phone away…for about a minute, then just goes back to the least erotic erotica, completely missing his turn and driving through the accidentally opened gate into the realm of the crocodiles. Now, I can just about believe he missed it. Whatever. But no-one went “hey, driver, why did we go through that gate that said NO ENTRY?” As a method to deliver the cannon fodder to the scene of their death, it’s pretty lame.
We then get the poachers, the least of the three parts. Robert Englund and his pals are hunting crocs for some reason, and are absolutely the worst shots in the world. They inevitably get attacked by a big ‘un, and while it pauses for a few seconds they all shoot at it from maybe 20 feet away. Do any of them hit? Do they heck! But this incompetence is not just limited to the humans, as we get a croc POV shot. The croc kills someone, but is seen to move past one of the hunters to get one further away. Did the first guy smell bad?
The grownups have all sorts to do – try and calm down the locals, unconvincingly flirt (Nicholls and Rohm, for two such attractive people, have zero onscreen chemistry, and Nicholls is maybe the weirdest kisser I’ve ever seen on camera) and eventually go back to the lake to look for their missing children. The three storylines eventually merge again, and the only thing left to wonder about is who’s going to die before the final wisecrack is issued over the final corpse of the final croc (apart, of course, from the one who appears right at the end, as they always do in films like this, just to let everyone know this series will go on as long as there are people willing to pay to see it).
The bit in the middle, where the humans are trying to avoid the crocodiles, is just boring. The CGI animals have no weight to them, and can neither be heard nor seen til its too late, robbing every scene of any drama or tension. The film itself doesn’t seem that bothered, with continuity errors aplenty and one scene where our heroes are rescued by a boat and a harpoon gun, manned by three people we’ve never seen before and don’t see again (I can only guess they’re stunt doubles who they were expecting would be further away from the camera). Yancy Butler makes a reference to “Lake Placid”, despite the fact none of the films in the series are actually set on Lake Placid, it was just a cool title for the first one. Someone is eaten by piranhas at one point, it would seem, despite…you get the idea. Two of the main cast (Nicholls and Caroline Ford) are English, but speak with American accents, despite there being another character with an English accent in the film.
It’s not all bad, though. Despite my monster-sized Rohm crush, most of the eye candy in this film is of the male variety, a refreshing change. Actually, looking back through my notes, that’s pretty much the only positive I can find. Plenty of acting talent wasted (including Caroline Ford, one of the teenagers, who did a lot with the little she was given) on what I now hope is the end of the series.