Title: Piranha 3D
Producer: Mark Canton
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Distributor: Dimension Films
Release Date: August 20, 2010
Runtime: 89 Minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Starring: Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Elisabeth Shue, Jerry OConnell, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, and Kelly Brook.
Synopsis (Product Description):
Every year the population of sleepy Lake Victoria explodes from 5,000 to 50,000 for Spring Break, a riot of sun and drunken fun. But this year, there’s something more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local old timers; a new type of terror is about to be cut loose on Lake Victoria. After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the areas new razor-toothed residents.
Piranha 3D is a new film by Alexandre Aja, maker of the 2006 remake of the The Hills Have Eyes. Piranha 3D is unbelievably crude, gory and certainly not the best written film, but you know what? It’s also a lot of fun. It’s probably a better B movie than Quentin Tarantino’s and Robert Rodriguez’s Grind House (Death Proof and Planet Terror) of a few years ago.
Piranha 3D takes place over spring break in a picturesque lake town (the film was shot entirely on location in Lake Havisu). Inexplicably an underwater earth quake tears open a rift beneath the lake, revealing a deeper underwater lake (yes, that’s probably redundant), which is home to prehistoric piranhas that have survived for millions of years. This setup is appropriately preposterous and we the viewers know the type of movie we’re in for when the effect of the underwater quake creates a funnel that looks suspiciously like a toilet flushing. It’s a super campy opening sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the film. What passes for the plot is hardly worth summarizing. Suffice it to say this unfortunate infestation by prehistoric pygocentrus nattereri is occurring when thousands of kids descend on the town for spring break. What follows is a series of gory dismemberments and naked frolics—in 3D!
Piranha 3D is a self aware send-up of the gore fests of the 70s and 80s like Jaws and the original Piranha. The stars are clearly having a lot fun with it, especially Jerry O’Connell as soft core porn producer, Derrick Jones, a send up of Girls Gone Wild impresario, Robert Francis, which is a nice segue way into the fact that this movie is a hard R. The fact that this wasn’t NC-17 demonstrates the utter ridiculousness of the movie ratings system. Free Willy, this is not. There’s as much T&A and probably more frontal nudity than one might see in Girls Gone Wild (alas I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing any of Mr. Francis’ direct to DVD masterpieces). There’s an underwater naked ballet featuring Kelly Brook and Riley Steele that goes on for damn near 5 minutes. It’s awkward, but hilarious because of it, especially when you realize that they’ve been underwater long enough to have drowned halfway through the sequence.
Then there is the gore. “Over the top” does not even begin to describe it. Unlike movies like Hostel, which have been described as torture porn, Piranha 3D is so gory and self aware that its portrayal of aquatic violence is comedic. When I saw this movie opening night the audience laughed a lot in a good way. The 3D effects merely accentuated the film’s crude humor and its ubiquitous gore. One of the members of the cast meets a particularly ignoble end in what is probably a 3D first, which I won’t spoil for you here.
All in all, Piranha 3D is a rousing success at recreating a B-movie. The 3D is surprisingly well done and greatly adds to the over the top feel of the film. This is, however, not great cinema, but that’s not the point. See this movie with people that appreciate schlocky horror movies and who have a good sense of humor. Don’t see it with your parents and for heaven’s sake don’t take little children to see it. It is offensive, and it is crude and it is a lot of fun when viewed for what it is, which is a campy send up of the genre.
FTC Advisory: I purchased my own tickets.
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