Film review by: Witney Seibold
Alexandre Aja‘s “Piranha 3D” is one of the most efficient B films you will see. It has the most rudimentary setup, characters put in peril, a wonderful pseudo-scientific explanation (given by Christopher Lloyd, how perfect is that?), and then a huge payoff full of blood and guts and gore. There is no epilogue and no triumph. The film sets them up, and cheap-looking CGI fish knock ’em down. Easy peasy.
Oh, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention the copious amounts of gore and nudity in this film. It takes place during spring break at Lake Victoria, and few frames of film skip by without a loving 3-D closeup of a tanned, oiled, taut, half-nude-and-sometimes-fully-nude human body. There are more bikinis in this film than in the entire city of Malibu. There are more vaginas in this film than a year’s worth of Hollywood sex comedies. Yes. I said vaginas. Finally, I say, finally there are vaginas in B films again. There’s even a delirious and gorgeous underwater nude lesbian ballet. For that moment, “Piranha 3D” feels like a Herzog film.
Also, in addition to the nudity, there are buckets and buckets of blood. Can’t have a film about killer man-eating fish without a healthy dose of eviscerated human meat. I counted at least eight human beings who were pulled out of the waterwith only their skelentonized legs danging beneath them. One woman’s corpse is hoisted by a parasail. Another is stripped to the bones, only to have her breast implants float merrily past the screen. There is a severed penis. In 3D. Eep. One woman is accidentally pulled in half, and another has her scalp ripped off by an outboard motor.
This is a film that, essentially, takes the nubile flesh of hot young people and turns it into, well, flesh.
There is something of a story, I suppose. A 17-year-old boy (Steven R. McQueen) has taken a job on a Girls Gone Wild-type pleasure cruise with a coke-snorting douchebag (Jerry O’Connell), and a bevy of hotties (including his crush Jessica Szohr). The underwater lesbians are played by scream queen Kelly Brook and porn star Riley Steele. Elisabeth Shue is the boy’s mother-slash-town-sheriff, and, God bless her, she actually lends credibility to her role; she brings much more than is needed, and actually comes across as tough and efficient. The boy must make the move on his crush, resist the douchey temptations of the douchey guy, and rescue his little brother and sister. She teams up with her partner (Ving Rhames) and a team of divers (Adam Scott and Dina Meyer amongst them), and discovers that a recent earthquake has opened an underwater cave where the evil killer fish have been lurking for the past million years. She then must warn the people, and save her children. She is marginally able to do both.
Lloyd is perfectly cast as the man who gets to wail lines like “This species went extinct over 3 million years ago!” Eli Roth appears as a wet t-shirt contest emcee. Richard Dreyfuss has a cameo as a fish victim.
Most B films these days use state-of-the-art technology, high-powered movie stars, and a slick, multi-million-dollar ad campaign. It’s comforting and refreshing to see a new B film that actually has cheap effects, a paper-thin conceit, and clearly exists to be exploitation once again. The recognizable actors are all good, and make the most of the material, although each of them, I feel, ought to be in better than this. Why make this movie? To get breasts and blood up on the screen in equal measure. Let’s throw in some rubber intestines as well, and, an underwater lesbian ballet as the cherry. Done a tasty, bad-for-your-teeth cinematic confection.