Piranha 3D (2010) / Horror-Comedy
MPAA rated: R for strong bloody gore, violence, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use
Running time: 88 min.
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Steven R. McQueen, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Adam Scott, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele, Dina Meyer
Cameo: Eli Roth
Director: Alexandre Aja
Screenplay: Peter Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Review published June 6, 2012
Piranha 3D is a self-aware bad cinema entry, a reimagining of a highly tongue-in-cheek Roger Corman produced/Joe Dante directed cult classic of 1978, that could have easily gone for a grindhouse vibe to achieve better results, but instead is more intent to throw in modern party atmosphere, lots of T&A, and lots of slash & gash. it is intentionally cheesy, with the filmmakers content to wallow in the completely prurient aspects of the characters, setting and premise.
Alexandre Aja, best known for his controversial slasher film, High Tension, lets the blood and guts fly early and often, without any regard for suspense or good taste. He coats the film liberally with cheesy effects, none more cheesy than the very fake looking fish themselves, who swim, leap, and gnaw like underwater Tasmanian Devils out for blood and carnage. The various partying college crowd are merely fodder for mass carnage, served up as cattle awaiting slaughter for our less-than-proper viewing pleasure. It wouldn't be so awful if it weren't so awkwardly presented, as if it were rushed through production without the final stages of print processing.
There some nice homage moments here and there, most notably in the prologue featuring Richard Dreyfuss (My Life in Ruins) virtually recreating his role in Jaws, which sets up the very similar Jaws plotline of a sheriff (Shue, Hamlet 2) trying to keep the people out to party being told to cool off because spring break is the biggest tourism time for the tiny Arizona town surrounding Lake Victoria. The Sheriff's teenage son (McQueen, "The Vampire Diaries") is getting to be of that age where he wants to join in on the fun, though with her working, he's saddled with the responsibility of looking after his little brother and sister instead.
But the allure soon gets the better of him when he's given a chance to make good money assisting the filming of a "Girls Gone Wild"-ish video shoot with notorious series creator Derrick Jones (O'Connell, Obsessed), and he gets to do all this while impressing his main crush, Kelly (Szohr, Tower Heist). The reason the sheriff wants everyone away from the waters of the lake is due to the potential discovery by a group of diving scientists of a pack of dangerous carnivorous fish, prehistoric piranha, who were trapped in a pocket cave underground for eons only to surface during a radical shifting of the earth under the lake.
Piranha 3D, let's face it, is a terrible movie, even taken as the spoof that it pretends to be. The laughs come mostly through being overtly distasteful, while the concept as a whole feels like it could have gone a long way to being a witty send-up of exploitation creature features, instead of the low-aiming frat party atmosphere that pollutes much of the screen time. If you're in a frat boy mentality -- i.e., if you're drinking with a group of your best buds, it's exactly the kind of non-taxing, high-titillation entertainment that only being in a nearly incoherent stupor can benefit from. It's got brews, it's got boobs, it's got babes, it's got bad taste, it's got gory carnage. Crack open no less than 5 cold ones for proper appreciation.
-- Followed by Piranha 3DD (2012)
©2012 Vince Leo