Review by Jack Foley
ALEXANDRE Aja is a name more commonly associated with extreme movie-making, following his High Tension breakthrough and subsequent remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors.
With Piranha 3D, however, he still brings the same gritty bite to proceedings, along with a tongue planted firmly in cheek. The ensuing rollercoaster ride offers the guiltiest of pleasures… a film that’s fun, absurd, knowing and outrageous.
Essentially an update of Joe Dante’s 1978 original, which put a tongue-in-cheek spin on the Jaws phenomenon of that era, Aja’s film kicks off as an underwater tremor sets free scores of pre-historic man-eating fish, thereby turning the annual Spring Break celebrations of sleepy Lake Victoria into a bloodbath.
Caught in the mayhem are Elisabeth Shue’s plucky town sheriff, her teenage son (The Vampire Diaries‘ Steven R. McQueen) and his younger brother and sister, a schlock porn director (Jerry O’Connell) and his two latest stars (including Kelly Brook).
To his immense credit, Aja recognises from the outset what the film should be and doesn’t aspire to anything subtle. Rather, his film exists to make viewers gasp, whether it’s via some audacious set pieces (which bolster the 3D for a change) or clever cameo casting.
There are also as many gratuitous boob and bum shots as there are piranhas in a state of frenzy!
Among the many pluses are an early cameo from Jaws‘ icon Richard Dreyfuss (reprising the attire and song choice of his character from Spielberg’s movie), a deliciously OTT ‘mad scientist’ appearance from Christopher Lloyd and a suitably obnoxious turn from Eli Roth as a loud DJ ripe for a grisly comeuppance.
Shue and Ving Rhames (as her deputy) bring some much needed gravitas to proceedings, perfectly tapping into the OTT tone but authentically so, while Kelly Brook is also a blast as a pole dancing model whose body seems made for 3D given the way that Aja has decided to shoot it (a nude underwater sequence, in particular, is another of the film’s audacious successes).
Fun, too, is Aja’s use of violence, which is as hard-hitting and gasp-inducing as his work on more hardcore horror fare, yet absurd and funny when it wants to be. There won’t be too many films in history that can lay claim to showing a severed 3D male appendage!
Piranha 3D is by no means perfect… early on, the film could do with a bit more pace and some of the really hardcore material may be off-putting to certain viewers expecting more of a giggle.
But in the main, this is a fun horror romp that really does offer the wildest of movie rides while leaving you with the tasty possibility that a sequel may soon follow.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: December 27, 2010