Alexandre Aja follows up his remake of The Hills Have Eyes and french slasher Haute Tension (or Switchblade Romance as it was known on this side of the pond) with Piranha 3D, another “re imagining” of the 1978 film of the same name. Although Aja clearly has good intentions of creating a grindhouse-esque shocker, it ultimately bites off more than it can chew.
Starring Elizibeth Shue, Kelly Brook and Ving Rhames, Piranha tells the story of an underwater earthquake in Lake Victoria that unleashes a horde of prehistoric man/woman/child/ eating piranhas, just in time for the annual Spring Break. Meanwhile, a sleazy adult movie director is shooting scenes on the lake, unaware of the danger that lurks below.
I didn’t have particularly high expectations of this; but I got the impression that it was going to be a “so bad it’s good” experience. Problem is, it never reaches the tipping point: the moment you realise it’s supposed to be bad. Everyone takes their role seriously, or as serious as Z list actors can get. Although, Jerry O’Connell (the adult movie director) adds intended humour to the proceedings. There are many, many occasions of unintended laughs, just from how bad the acting or script is. Of course, it was never the intention of the film makers for this to win any Oscars (or any awards for that matter; well, maybe a Razzie) but it’s still uninspiring stuff.
There’s about 20 minutes of footage that’s actually worth watching: the scenes that signal the arrival of Piranhas into the Spring Break celebration area. I’ll admit that the blood drenched carnage did grab my attention briefly, with imaginative and gruesome deaths. But it quickly falls back into its clichéd conventions, and the boredom takes over again.
As for the 3D, I saw no reason for it to be used. It didn’t enhance the experience in any way, even using the age old “lets make things appear like they’re coming out the screen!” method. The best way to describe it is that it was filmed blurry, and the glasses make everything clear: that you’ve wasted blockbuster amounts of money on a bargain bin effort.
Piranha 3D is an entirely forgettable time waster that tried to capture the essence of exploitation cinema, but only manages to remind us why grind house cinema is best kept to the 1970s.