Movie Number– 109
Title– Piranha 3D (2010)
Running Time– 89 minutes
Director– Alexandre Aja
Writer– Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Starring– Steven R. McQueen, Jerry O’Connell, Elizabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jessica Szohr
The summer is coming to an abrupt end, students are filling in the small streets of my college town, and the Halloween gear can already be found in stores around town. It’s a sad time of year (except for the Halloween merchandise, of course). Fortunately, the next couple weeks have copious amounts of movies being released that I am interested in, both at the theatre and on Blu-Ray/DVD. The start of these shenanigans is marked by the theatrical release of Piranha 3D, and so, last night, my girlfriend and I headed out to the theatre, paid for our $20 student tickets, and donned our 3D glasses. Luckily there were no disappointments.
Piranha 3D is a remake of a low budget, 1970s Jaws rip-off called Piranha. Since Blockbuster Online is absolute garbage and Netflix doesn’t have it for rental, I have yet to see the original this remake is based off of, so I will not be able to comment on how faithful it is to the original. What I do know about it (that it is a low budget 70s horror film) leads me to believe that fans of the original would enjoy this.
An underwater earthquake under Lake Havasu unleashes thousands of meat-seeking piranhas, desperately searching for their next meal. Of course, it is also Spring Break weekend, and there are loads of college kids at Lake Havasu doing what college kids do best: drinking, partying, and getting naked. Also at Lake Havasu this weekend, Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), the director and operator of Wild Wild Girls (a take on the Girls Gone Wild franchise), is filming his latest pornographic movie (with real-life porn star Riley Steele, and actress Kelly Brook). In order to navigate the lake, Jones pulls in local teenager Jake Forester (Steven R. McQueen) to show him around. Jake’s mother also happens to be the town sheriff (Elizabeth Shue) and he is supposed to be babysitting his younger brother and sister, but instead, he heads out with Derrick Jones and the beautiful women of Wild Wild Girls. Things take a gory turn when the piranhas get closer to shore and start attacking the college students.
First thing I need to touch on is the special effects of Piranha 3D: they were stellar. This movie was exactly what a remake of a cheesy 70s horror movie is supposed to be: over-the-top and hilarious with a lot of naked women thrown in. This will not appeal to everyone, and that is fine. I don’t think Alexandre Aja – the film’s director – set out to appeal to everyone when he was making the movie. From the gore effects that made my skin crawl, to the 3D effects that had me jumping, the special effects work on Piranha 3D were excellent.
It’s difficult to talk about the acting in a movie like this because it was intentionally over-the-top, and unrealistic. There is no way any real person would do the things the people in this movie have done; it just wouldn’t happen. Sometimes, though, there is nothing wrong with that, and it works perfectly. This is an example of when campy acting is great, and the film would have faltered with any other approach. The women were gorgeous, with the two Wild Wild Girls stealing the show on that front with a full-nude water porn shoot. Jerry O’Connell was hilarious as the porn director, and Steven R. McQueen didn’t seem to stray far from his Vampire Diaries role with his work in this film (which was fine). What was great, though, was the wonderful cameos: Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future trilogy), Richard Dreyfus (Jaws), and Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) all played small roles in the film, and it was awesome to see my favorite actors from some of my favorite films – horror and otherwise – play a part in this movie. This was a great decision by Aja and left me feeling nostalgic.
The story isn’t deep or though provoking, but it doesn’t need to be. I came into the theatre expecting 90 minutes of blood and bikinis, and that is exactly what I got. The 3D effects were some of the best I have seen, even if the screen was obnoxiously dark at points, and reading on-screen words made me go cross-eyed. I even jumped a few times, which I didn’t think would happen coming in. If you’re a fan of over-the-top gore, lots of beautiful, naked women, and cheesy horror in 3D, then you MUST see this movie. If any one of those things sounds unappealing, don’t waste your money because this movie is not for you. Piranha 3D is an instant cult classic.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.