It’s spring break and Lake Victoria, AZ is bombarded once again with boatloads of tourists and drunk college kids looking for a constant week-long party. While usually on week-long babysitting duty, the local Sheriff’s office has more important things to worry about when the tattered remains of a fisherman are discovered shortly after an earthquake hits. Bringing in a team of seismologists to investigate reveals that the earthquake created a fissure at the bottom of the lake, revealing a subterranean lake housing killer piranhas from the prehistoric age.
It is easy to guess everything that could be terrible in a movie about killer piranhas and be correct for the most part; bad acting, stupid plot, terrible story development in an unrealistic scenario. Let’s put that all aside because chances are if there is any interest at all in seeing this movie, it isn’t due to any delusions that a movie entitled Piranha 3D would be the feel-good summer flick up for an Oscar in any category. Like me, those who will pay full admission to see this movie go in with the idea that they will be entertained to a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and take it from me, this movie knows how to play to the strengths of the B-Movie Grindhouse horror genre it obviously was inspired by and because of this provides a rather enjoyable experience.
There are many reasons this could be called a B-Movie; Boobs, bikinis, babes, blood, brutality are all running rampant in ways you don’t usually get to see in theaters since the day of the drive-in have passed. Bad horror movies are generally known for having their share of unnecessary nudity and it would be silly to expect any less of a movie taking place on a lake during spring break, but it had seemed as if there was an unspoken limitation which was completely ignored in this film. From the casual wet t-shirt contest to what bordered on soft-porn, there is absolutely no remorse or reason as to what is offered up (which I think is best summarized with real-life porn actress Gianna Michaels having a role). One scene in particular has two “adult actresses” frolicking rather intimately and awkwardly underwater in what felt like a solid five minutes, which feels like a little too long to be staring at in a room full of mothers, fathers, sisters and daughters in the audience.
If the first half of the movie is spent trying desperately to gain the audience’s attention with the use of plot devices and tits, the second half is the great payoff that drew the audience to the theater in the first place. Taking their sweet-ass time getting to the banquet of flesh that await them, the killer piranha systematically surround the party-zone on the lake and begin their feast on everyone in sight, in the process creating a chaotic panic that results in some of the most ridiculous and bloodiest deaths I have seen yet. I find it hard to comment specifics on just how gore-y this movie gets because half the fun of this film is experiencing the surprises for yourself so just know that there is blood, gore and death in troves and each kill is shocking in it’s own right.
I am stunned at how many generally decent actors they were able to get to play a role in this film along side the mediocre(at best) television personalities that took the main roles. While both completely unknown to me, many will recognize Steven R. McQueen from a crappy television show (ripping off an even crappier movie series) as Jake Forester and Jessica Szohr from a variety of uninteresting roles on television as Kelly Driscoll. Both are stunningly mediocre with characters that don’t develop at all and aren’t really even all that likable. Jerry O’Connell probably provides the best casting choice for a character (next to Christopher Lloyd as the fish-crazy Mr. Goodman) for his role of a hyper-active porn king with no humanity and comic relief with Elisabeth Shue as a close second for Sheriff Julie Forester (Jake’s mother). Notable mentions go to Ving Rhames (Deputy Fallon), Eli Roth (Wet T-Shirt Host) and Richard Dreyfuss (Matt Hooper) for lending their faces and Kelly Brook (Danni) and Riley Steele (Crystal) for lending their bodies to a good cause.
It wouldn’t be right to end this review without touching on the quality of the 3D in this movie. Not being a huge fan of 3D in movies to begin with, this movie is the epitome of just how badly 3D could be done. It is almost as if the studio doing the effect went out of their way to work on creating 3D that breaks all the conventions of what looks good and the end result is a shoddy-looking product complete with visually distorted halos around actor if they are “in front” of something in the background and a “cardboard cut-out” effect on the horizon line (hills, mountains, clouds). I understand that 3D is the new trend and I don’t have a problem with those that understand how to create it with the third dimension in mind while filming with the proper technology, the problem I have is when a movie that would have been perfectly fine originally shot digitally is damaged to an amateurish standard in the 3D post-processing. If there is any lesson that can be learned by Piranha 3D, it is that movie studios should be pickier in what gets the 3D treatment and learn when to hold back for the betterment of the consumer (one can dream, can’t he?)
Never taking itself for what it’s not, Piranha 3D provides an enjoyable way to kill a few hours to those who would even consider seeing it in the first place.