Plot: The small town of Vernon is mostly swampland, but it is home to a number of eccentric, colorful residents and one local legend that persists, told from generation to generation. The legend of Gator Face is well known to everyone in Vernon, though most people have stopped believing in the stories long ago. While most treat it like a tall tale to scare kids or tourists with, but Bob (Paul Winfield) not only believes that Gator Face is all too real, he keeps a constant vigil. He has watched for Gator Face for years and years, though he has never seen the legend himself, a fact that doesn’t dissuade him in the least from keeping an eye open. When some local kids decide to play a prank and pretend to be Gator Face, it riles up Bob and has some of the others up in arms, as no one can believe the legend was true. But with everyone on alert and some wanting to trap or even kill Gator Face, have the kids gone too far and what will happen to the legend in the wake of the pranks?
Entertainment Value: I found this one to be quite interesting, a family friendly adventure with some light folk horror elements, though I do mean light, so don’t expect much in that regard. The narrative here is more than solid, I like the local legend aspect and of course, there’s some b movie gold to be mined here, though not as much as I would have liked. The tone is darker than you might expect, but remains within the usual family friendly boundaries. But there are more mean spirited touches than usual, mostly from the colorful locals who have some bad habits and short fuses. I don’t think it veers too much out of the family audience demographic, but it isn’t always a light, brisk comedy, so keep that in mind. I think the most memorable elements are once the kids find the real Gator Face, as that opens the b movie doors a little and the cheesy special effects of the character. I think there’s some entertainment here and I was never bored in the least, but the movie is a little uneven and if you don’t appreciate hokey family films, you might get as much out of this one. But if you like the local legend premise and humorous, b movie inspired creature effects, give The Legend of Gator Face a shot, as it is a decent watch.
I don’t think this movie will be well remembered for the performances, but most of the cast does passable work. Paul Winfield has my personal favorite role and he actually gets some emotional beats to work with, which he puts to good use. His side thread is one of the movie’s highlights and while it seems kind of silly at times, given the cheesy Gator Face and all, it is an interest element to the narrative. He offers up a memorable character and a strong base for his scenes, bringing up his costars’ performances in the process. I still wouldn’t rank this with his better efforts, but he does well and takes the material seriously. To be honest, no one else really stands out here, but that’s no insult to the performers, as most of the work is watchable. The cast also includes C. David Johnson, Roger Dunn, and Charlotte Sullivan.