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Piranha 3D

USA 2010
Directed by
Alexandre Aja
88 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3.5 stars

Piranha 3D

Synopsis: An earthquake rips open a fissure beneath a lake where prehistoric piranha lurk. Free to roam, they wreak havoc on the local townsfolk and the Spring Break party crowd that has descended to debauch themselves

The best horror films always have a moral centre.  Indeed, there’s a strong puritanical streak running through the conventions of horror, probably because it gives a good excuse to show a lot of immoral behaviour. Piranha 3D takes that idea and goes nuts with it. When three of your major supporting characters (read victims) are a soft-core pornographer (Jerry O’Connell) and his two surgically enhanced porn stars (Riley Steele and Kelly Brook), you honestly have to question anyone who chooses to dismiss this film as silly. That’s the point. Of course it’s silly, it’s crazy and stupid and indulgent and most of all it’s incredibly funny.

There is a story. A young kid named Jake (Steve R. McQueen) has a crush on Kelly (Jessica Szohr), and they both end up on the boat of the aforementioned pornographer, Derrick. The purpose of this jaunt is to film an “underwater ballet” as the two models don flippers and doff everything else to cavort for the cameras in some underwater girl-on-girl action. As they don’t surface for ages you can speculate on what these two porn stars must have done previously to develop such an amazing lung capacity. And being a horror movie, you know they’re going to die horribly. But that’s not all. The reason they’re really in town is for Spring Break, to film the “innocents” and sell their corrupting encounters on the internet. So there’s also a few hundred girls in bikinis and guys with washboard abs all partying in the water. In other words, fresh meat.

The total chaos as the piranhas attack the party is brilliantly executed, with gore galore and some really impressive kills. It’s predictable, but that’s part of the fun. I was giggling as I picked how they were going to deliver the gore next. Ving Rhames as a deputy sheriff gets a ripper moment as he runs out of bullets and resorts to using an outboard motor to carve through the hungry fishies. Eli Roth follows up his turn in Inglourious Basterds by appearing as a wet t-shirt contest host and gets killed in one of the best moments in the film. Piranha 3D gleefully delivers the gore, ruthlessly setting up death on a massive scale and laughs with you as gallon upon gallon of blood churns up the water. Even the 3D is delightfully cheesy, the first time I’ve seen a film post-processed into 3D that’s worked. There’s everything from 3D vomiting to 3D evisceration, it’s just taking the whole effect and running with it like a kid in a candy store.

There is nothing to recommend Piranha 3D when it comes to plot or acting, and it falls well below Peter Jackson’s genius gorefest Braindead, but that’s really where it’s pitching to. A guilty pleasure, with the emphasis on pleasure, Piranha 3D is a great splatstick movie.




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