Most of my friends will tell you that I’m a sucker for a bad movie. Of course, there are movies that are just plain bad, and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I’m talking about movies that are so bad, and are made with such a degree of incompetence, that they begin to attain a kind of “goodness,” if that’s possible. This is the kind of bad movie I love – one that, despite all of your better instincts, you can’t help but watch.
“Piranha 3D” is NOT one of those movies. It is an homage to all of the bad movies that have come before it (including the original “Piranha” from 1978). This is both its strength and its weakness.
Director Alexandre Aja (“High Tension,” “The Hills Have Eyes” remake) and his team have set out to craft the ultimate gorefest of the summer, and, for the most part, they have succeeded.
In a plot largely ripped off from “Jaws,” the sheriff of a small town has to face down the biggest challenge of her career: telling a lake-full of horny teenagers to take their party elsewhere when an underwater earthquake unleashes a horde of nasty flesh-eating critters.
That’s it. That’s the entire plot. But screenwriters Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg load it with enough complications that you never notice how slight the whole thing really is.
The cast is more than up to the task. Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd are just a few of the acting veterans on hand to class-up the joint, and they are fun to watch. Joining them in the gleeful mayhem are Adam Scott as a gung-ho scientist and Jerry O’Connell as an over-the-top “Girls Gone Wild” soft-core porn producer.
The real stars of “Piranha 3D,” however, are the make-up effects team led by Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger. These guys must have gone through a zillion buckets of fake blood and it’s all there onscreen with very few CGI effects. The body parts fly every which way and, in 3D, right at you. The sheer excess of gore is unbelievable – and somewhat delightful!
The only drawback to the affair is the knowledge that this film is “trying” to be one of those old-fashioned scare-machines of the 70’s. It never tries to be anything else, and as a result, ultimately feels a little too calculated. The sheer joy of those old films is in the knowledge that the filmmakers were often hindered by their budgets and lack of basic filmmaking skills.
When a group of talented and competent filmmakers make a film that’s trying to look like it was made by amateurs, the result comes off a bit flat.
So, while “Piranha 3D” mostly delivers on the laughs and over-delivers on the gross-out factor, there aren’t any real scares or surprises. But when the blood starts gushing, you’ll be squealing with joy!
PIRANHA 3D; Dir: Alexandre Aja; SCR: Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg; STARS: Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott RATED R!