Piranha 3D: bloody brilliance

If you have an aversion to either boobs, bums or blood, then Piranha 3D is not for you. This is a movie that treats the viewer to a feast of all these. Continuously. For a whole 88 minutes.

But if that sounds ok to you, or even pretty darn good, then you are going to love this film. Piranha 3D is a gratuitous, gory, tongue-in-cheek homage to the neglected B-movie format.

French director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) has taken on this remake of the 1978 original and made it work for the MTV generation, as well as those who love a giggle while looking at Kelly Brook naked and people getting torn limb from limb. But to make this extra-special, he’s only gone and made it in 3D. So it’s not just Kelly Brook naked, but it’s Kelly Brook naked in 3D. Wowzers.

The film begins with a scene reminiscent to the beginning of Jaws, a lone fisherman quietly fishes in the middle of the lake, when the prehistoric piranhas that live beneath the surface of Arizona’s Lake Victoria are stirred to life by a sexy seismic tremor.

Unfortunately this coincides with Spring Break when hundreds of bikini-clad babes and beer-guzzling boys descend on the lake. In charge of the lake is Sheriff Julie (Elisabeth Shue), whose son Jake, played by Steven R. McQueen, is approached by porn king Derrik (Jerry O’Connell) to be a location scout for a film he is making.

The only problem is that Jake has told his mum that he will baby-sit his two younger siblings. The lure of spending a day on a boat with two porn stars (although they are not officially called that) Danni (Kelly Brook) and Crystal (played by real-life porn star Riley Steele) is an offer too good to turn down.

They head off into the vast blue lake, accompanied by Jake’s love interest Kelly, played by Gossip Girl star Jessica Szohr, not realising that meanwhile an attempt is being made to get everyone out of the water. Of course, the teenagers enjoying the high jinks of Spring Break will not listen and panic ensures as the piranhas start to tuck in.

What follows is a long sequence of people being mauled, body parts flying out of the screen at you, gruesome deaths, blood and more blood. Meanwhile the sheriff realises her family are on the lake and sets off to find them. I don’t want to ruin what happens, so you’ll have to watch to find out if Jake, the porn stars, and the sheriff make it back with all their limbs intact.

The story is pretty generic and the script is fairly weak but the sheer tackiness of it all will raise the odd laugh. Acting wise, everyone musters up terrific levels of fear and terror. And Kelly Brook? Did some one say Oscar? Kelly plays the part of a hot girl who is dim to perfection – the acting lessons have really paid off.

But what makes the film for me, and probably for everyone else, is not the 3D, although the technology is perfect for a film like this. Nor is it the scares, of which there are plenty. It’s the fact that you see Kelly Brook naked for a whole three minutes. Just kidding, that’s not the highlight.

Although there is a scene where the porn director is filming what the end credits call ‘underwater ballet’ which is basically just Danni and Crystal naked, underwater, dancing together like mermaids, or pornmaids. In 3D you can’t deny this looks pretty cool and with the classical music played over the scene, it’s a moment of pure genius, the stuff B movie dreams are made of. You can’t help but smile at the loopy over-the-topness of it.

If you are looking for a film that entertains you to the very end, is easy to watch, gives you the giggles and makes you jump, then Piranha 3D is for you. It may be cheesy, verging on sexist and full of fake blood (and boobs) but it’s bloody entertaining.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (6 votes cast)
Piranha 3D: bloody brilliance, 4.5 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

4 thoughts on “Piranha 3D: bloody brilliance

  • September 7, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Ah yes, Fiona. We came back from seeing the film and I wondered whether you had written about it. You had and I agree with all of your review. ‘B’ movie it is but ‘B’ movies certainly had their uses in the good old days of film and obviously still have.

    The ‘old’ ‘B’ movies were often quite subversive and because they were second/supporting features at the cinema were often less scrutinised by the censorship and moral code authorities of the time. So subversive stuff slipped through, especially sex and violence but also the occasional political view.

    Certainly using a real porn star, with a ‘trackable’ record of porn imagery is pushing the boundaries of conventional cinema, as is seeing dis-membered male body private parts coming out of the screen at one in 3D {£D}. For a male viewer this is pretty fierce stuff, especially as the private part in question comes out half mutilated/eaten because even the piranhas find it unpalatable, particularly as it belongs to the most obnoxious character in the film.

    Yes this kind of ‘killer’ waterborne genre does track its way back to the 1975 classic “Jaws”. The clue here is that the opening sequence with ‘ the man in the boat ‘ features Richard Dreyfuss in a cameo role. The same Richard Dreyfuss who so successfully fought and beat/killed the Great White Shark in “Jaws” only lasts 5 minutes with the 3D piranhas.

    Any sub-text here? well the ‘reflexive’ use of a key character from the 1975 “Jaws” film gives a clue. As now. in 1975 the USA economy was going through a fierce recession and the confident American psyche derived from being the dominant power of the 1950s and 1960s, was coming under threat. The shark was part of the new uncertainty in America, a denizen from the deepest collective unconscious. America was in a protracted war in Vietnam and ‘losing’. Saigon had fallen to the Communist North Vietnamese, and American troops were forced to flee back home.

    Anyway the denizens from the deep are back again in 2010, this time collectively. Again the USA is mired in recession [maybe even depression] and the USA is fighting another open-ended war, this time against Islamic fundamentalism, and like the piranhas they keep on coming in a never ending volley. And let’s face it it is the cream of American youth that gets ‘butchered’!!
    By the way check out “Jaws in 3D” 1985.


  • September 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

    As an addendum to my earlier entry. A sombre reminder that there might be something in my ‘war’ analogy is given in the credits of this film where an acknowledgement is given to the American Amputee Association. There are an awful lot of body parts being lost in Afghanistan to mines and bombs !!

    • September 7, 2010 at 11:23 am

      Thank you for both your considered comments Michael. Very interesting point about the killer fish embodying America’s anxieties in harsh times – I’m sure there’s a great deal of truth in that. It also shouldn’t be forgotten as well as breaking boundaries later followed by mainstream cinema, B-movies also helped launch the careers of numerous big names. I see that John Sayles, the respected Independent film maker, wrote the screenplay for the original Piranha. Thanks again. John Parrot (Editor @ TFR)

  • September 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Thank you John, for your supportive reply to my earlier comments.

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