Piranha 3D is a movie that asks of the viewer to check intelligence at the door. Much like the mandated shower before entering the public pool, Piranha 3D viewers will likely to skip the sanitation precaution and dive in asking questions.
“Why is the boat sinking while stuck on rocks? Is there a good reason to have a tour guide of a lake? How could these piranha have possibly made it this far when they only had each other to eat?”
It’s spring break at Lake Victoria (obvious Lake Havasu). A rift has exposed a subterranean lake and the prehistoric piranha that rule it are finding their way to the surface. That’s really all you need to know. I could mention that local sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) has to save the vacationing masses. I could mention that Wild Wild Girls (Girls Gone Wild?) video pioneer Derrick (Jerry O’Connell) has commissioned her son as a tour guide and placed him in danger. Yeah, but like that really matters.
Some movies make an effort to get the audience on board with the heroes, and Piranha 3D isn’t one of those movies. I can’t describe the sheriff or the random guy on the boat who decides to become an action hero by accompanying her. Jake Forester (Steven R. McQueen) is the sheriff’s son. He appears to have a history with Kelly (Jessica Szohr), which never gets explained. Oh but the Forester family doesn’t stop there, see the more children in trouble the more intense the carnage. That’s what Laura (Brooklynn Proulx) and Zane (Sage Ryan) are for. I’m more inclined to think that the extended family is present to showcase how bad of actors the crew can find for their little movie. Scene after scene features McQueen acting like a stage frightened grade school student. I’ve never seen a character interact with his mom so awkwardly. The dialogue is so forgettable that you can tell Jessica Szohr promptly abandoned her lines in favor of stuttering.
August is almost the opposite of spring break. Kids are going back to school, so what a great time to release a spring break movie. Reminds me of the perils of having Friday Night Lights on any night but Friday. I guess a spring release would be skipped over by the target crowd since those ruffians would be preoccupied by the activities that lead so many to their deaths. I have my doubts that drunkard students are interested in a movie that preaches against their lifestyle, but we all know that aren’t going to care enough to read into it that far—if at all. They will come for the public exposure and Play-Doh factory style organ displays; and it doesn’t matter if the two combine. You know you are jaded when ripped out saline implants and a 3D Viagra ad no longer shock you. Speaking of 3D, I usually avoid it. Here I had no choice, but thankfully I can warn that Piranha 3D was the laziest attempt I’ve witnessed to date. The most glaring example of failure came when a glowing piranha egg grimaced for the camera, but general fuzziness and double vision distracted me throughout.
Director Alexandre Aja does a couple of things right. Abrupt ending aside, pacing isn’t an issue. There are some creative kills to be seen. My favorite occurs when a girl’s hair is entangled in a boar propeller. There are some cameos too, and Eli Roth’s might be the best cameo ever; it effectively sums up his entire existence.
If it wasn’t for the ability to review, I wouldn’t have otherwise selected to see a movie like Piranha 3D; I know all too well what this subgenre has in store. At least I have an excuse. Are you going to tell your friends you’re a misogynist? Will you confess that quantity of gore is more satisfying than the tension that comes with a quality setup? Didn’t think so. *½