PIRANHA 3D a.k.a. PIRANHA [2010]


USA 2010  Directed by: Alexandre Aja Written by: Alexandre Aja, Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg, Gregory Levasseur Produced by: Alexandre Aja, Mark Canton, Marc Toberoff, Gregory Levasseur Cinematography by: John R. Leonetti  Editing by: Baxter  Music by: Michael Wandmacher Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss, Cody Longo, Ashlynn Brooke, Gianna Michaels, Eli Roth

Shooting a piranha movie in 2010 sounds as promising as shooting another DIRTY DANCING sequel. It is hard to imagine what it takes to come up with that idea; someone’s either lost it completely, or is convinced that it works against all odds.

No matter what we think, here it is, PIRANHA 3D, riding the 3D wave and arriving with one of the summer’s loudest marketing campaigns, telling us that 3D is about to finally show its teeth. The story: it’s spring break, the kids go bananas and the piranhas come to the party for some F&B. The heroes are a) Jake, a young guy who was supposed to baby-sit his younger siblings but instead joins the spring break frenzy, and b) the local police force, namely Jake’s mother Julie who’s in charge of the sheriff’s department. It is her who early in the story discovers a mutilated body in the local lake, but before anyone knows what’s going on piranhas attack the partying kids on the waterfront. Of course there’s more to it than meets the eye, but amid the attack of the evil fish who’s got the time to care? So, while everybody screams and runs, we lean back and enjoy the bloody show, waiting for the things to come.

And they do keep coming. PIRANHA 3D is one of the edgiest horror flicks in a while, not the thinking man’s kind of movie, but it is certainly going to be a fan boys’ favorite. PIRANHA’s irresistibility is the result of three key points: first of all, it’s a great homage to JAWS, secondly it’s the best animal horror film in decades, thirdly it’s a blood-drenched gorefest par excellence.

#1. Yes indeed, PIRANHA 3D is a truly witty genre homage: the characters, the dialogue, the outfits, the plot, many of the details along the way and finally the showdown are a skillful ode to what JAWS invented. PIRANHA 3D almost looks as old-fashioned at times, with a lovely 70’s touch, and while I can see some sophisticated, direct references to JAWS, the movie is only a mere sequel to the original PIRANHA, not so much an actual tribute to Joe Dante’s work. Genre fans won’t care: PIRANHA 3D is as clever as it is entertaining, and references to respective classic and contemporary films are there aplenty.

#2. Animal horror films are usually either silly, or they are disgusting mondo stuff. You will seldom find animal horror that works, and that’s why directors shouldn’t touch this species of horror flicks ever, unless your career is over anyhow or you’re the go-to guy for cheap DTV B-movies. Animal horror is mission impossible. With PIRANHA 3D however Aja has created a movie so cool, humorous, offensive and seriously sick that you’ll totally forget that the fierce creatures on a rampage are fish. PIRANHA 3D is as good as the best zombie flicks and their spoofs, so don’t be put off by the movie’s idea.

#3. Sam Raimi considered THE EVIL DEAD a black comedy, so that probably qualifies PIRANHA 3D for being a horror satire. If you don’t share this kind of humor better stay out of the cinema: while the film begins rather tame, teasing us with a lot of hints, once the piranhas are unleashed all hell breaks loose. Aja is like a Doberman, once he got you by your balls he doesn’t ever let go: PIRANHA is a very gory mess, and when you think it went as far as it can Aja takes it a step further, and when you think they can’t do that, they just do it, and when you think this can’t work it nevertheless does. PIRANHA 3D shamelessly indulges in cruelties, but it also doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it a very likable (did I just say that?) movie.

It hasn’t felt that good enjoying mayhem and mutilations since Peter Jackson’s early works, and despite the film being rather short and anything but a drama, Aja has made PIRANHA 3D into a fine shocker that works on many levels. We even care about some of the characters – who would have thought that.

Maybe the term “amusing” describes PIRANHA 3D best: from stupid jokes (including, but not limited to, the only penis joke that you’ll ever need), to all the violence that mostly isn’t exactly funny (watch Aja’s HAUTE TENSION and you know what I mean), the movie keeps up a 10-out-of-10 fun factor and tongue-in-cheek attitude. PIRANHA 3D may get a bit drunk on its own excesses, but so do we. After all you can’t be the only person staying sober on a really wild party. PIRANHA 3D swims away in a blaze of glory. It’s a great catch not to be missed.


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