With August often dishing out the remaining summer duds, it’s refreshing to be excited for a movie that you know will be a fun ride. 3-D piranhas are enough of a draw for me, but with an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes I was really pumped about this summer slaughter.
Directed by Alexandre Aja, who also remade the vicious The Hill Have Eyes in 2006 – and who I have been a fan of since his breakthrough French slasher Haute Tension, once again shows his skills for remaking horror flicks. The original Piranha first flopped in theatres in 1978, but over the years has gained cult status as being a fine example of Roger Corman schooling. Originally conceived as a Jaws parody, Piranha gained its own fan base as a b-movie romp-com due to its cheap effects and bad script. As far as the evil world of horror remaking goes, I can see how one could have a fun time with this fish-fest.
Piranha 3-D knows exactly what kind of movie it wants to be and succeeds because although it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it also makes an effort to improve the original. From the very first scene, you know you’re going to be in for a rollercoaster ride. As a nice kick back to Jaws – we see a peaceful Richard Dreyfuss “reprising” his Jaws character Matt Hooper, who is happily fishing away before getting sucked into a swirling vortex caused by an underwater tremor, which is what sets loose our prehistoric fishies. From that point on it’s an endless indulgence of evil looking piranhas, shameless examples of female enhancement, epic massacre sequences and some very creative, graphic ways to blow a special effects budget. The characters are halfway decent, also thanks to some nice casting – Elizabeth Shue as the local sheriff and Jerry O-Connell as a cracked out “Girls Gone Wild” director who is totally moronic but in a highly entertaining way. Though we are surrounded by bimbos, there is a nice payoff – lets just say that Eli Roth thankfully does not have a very big cameo. Ving Rhames, unfortunately, was a bit of a wasted talent and could have done for piranhas in Arizona what Samuel L. Jackson did for snakes on a plane. Christopher Lloyd, however has the best line in the whole film.
Aja must also be commended for his use of 3-D technology. I’m really annoyed that every film is now being released in 3-D when it has no purpose, but Piranha takes full advantage of being in 3-D by launching the audience right into the swing of things.
The pacing of the movie is a bit off in spots, but I have to admit I was gripping onto my seat during other scenes. In any case, Aja shows once more that he has a strong grasp of the horror genre, proving that remakes can indeed be done in a relevant, razor-toothed way.