To say Lake Placid strains believability is an understatement. From a staged medley of characters to forced romances, the film is as lifeless and recycled as a low-budget horror flick.
Writer-producer David E. Kelley (creator of television's Ally McBeal) imagines just putting a city girl and a country boy together in the woods will make sparks fly. But New York paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda at her brittle worst) and Fish and Game Warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) are little more than cardboard cutouts.
We're besieged with inconsistent character development. Kelly flip-flops from irritation over being sent to mosquito-filled backwoods to sparring sessions with Jack over leading the investigation. Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) will make a witty, incisive comment only to appear the backwoods yokel in the next scene.
While closing action sequences give us breathtaking views of the lake monster, most attacks are too extreme to be believable, or even scary. The film runs through horror movie clichés while trying to set up a moral choice between killing the monster and leaving a wild animal in peace. It's like some mutant offspring of Jaws and Gorillas in the Mist. Steer clear.