Review: Piranha 3DD (18) / Director: John Gulager / Screenplay: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton / Starring Katrina Bowden, Danielle Panabaker, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, Chris Zylka, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Gary Busey, David Koechner, David Hasselhoff / Release Date: Out Now
Ah, the beauty of cinema. The magic of film dialogue. Think of some of the classics. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” “Play it again, Sam.” “I’m as mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this any more.” “Made it, ma. Top of the world!” “You can’t handle the truth.” You probably have your own favourites. Now, courtesy of Piranha 3DD, another achingly lyrical classic which film devotees will cherish for generations. “Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina.” Ah, it’s like poetry…
Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D in 2010 resurrected the long-forgotten fishy franchise with a neat balance of outrageous comedy and gruesome bloody spectacle. This cheeky sequel largely sidelines the gore and goes directly and repeatedly for the funny bone. With Christopher Lloyd reprising and exaggerating his role as barmy ichthyologist Goodman, Ving Rhames back as Deputy Fallon complete with machine gun legs and David Hasselhoff (the Hoff!) stealing the show as a wildly over-the-top caricature of himself (at least, for his sake, I’m hoping it’s a wildly over-the-top caricature), any pretence at serious horror goes flying out of the window faster than you can say “Get out of the water!” Even the title tells its own story; if 3D glasses are capable of steaming up, the parade of pneumatic breasts undulating across the screen in luxurious slow motion is going to do the trick. Don’t you just love the movies?
The story, because we know you’re interested, picks up a year after the events of the previous film turned holiday resort Lake Victoria into an eerie, quarantined no-go area. Locals in some nameless and presumably nearby town are gearing up for the opening of the Big Wet, a fabulous new water park where fun’s the name of the game (along with wet T-shirts.) But the piranha swarm have swum upstream through underground water systems and sniffed out a new food supply. Before long local teens are getting nipped and shredded and greedy water park owner Chet (wonky-mouthed David Koechner) refuses to listen to warnings of imminent piranha-based disaster. Honestly, have none of these people seen Jaws? There are a couple of decent, effective set pieces in the first half of Piranha 3DD; the piranha attacks on the jetty and the horny teens trapped in their Mystery Machine when it plunges into the lake are both inventive and exciting. But halfway through the film it seems that scriptwriters Dunstan and Melton decided that they’ve done their best but it’s probably time to start getting silly now. “Welcome to rock bottom” growls The Hoff when he arrives to open The Big Wet. But in truth his arch performance is a new career high for the former TV lifeguard who playfully allows the film to make good use of his public persona as a slightly weird, seriously faded and yet oddly beloved modern icon. By the time the water park carnage starts - and it’s all a bit low-key and perfunctory compared to the seriously grisly blood-letting of Piranha 3D - it’s too late for the film to try to shock us because it’s been too damned funny for too damned long.
The unknown cast of enthusiastic teens are typically faceless and interchangeable and the script tries to get us interested in by-the-numbers subplots about a bent deputy Sheriff and a dreary love triangle but ultimately Piranha 3DD (and some of the 3D isn’t too shabby) is more concerned with making us laugh than making us scream. By the end, even though every fibre of your being will be telling you that this is cheap, sleazy exploitative twaddle, you won’t be able to resist just sitting back and going with the (blood) flow, enjoying the scenery and letting the Hoff work his very special brand of magic.
Piranha 3DD is utterly ridiculous and quite, quite brilliant in equal parts and for exactly the same reasons. Go on, go and see it - and stay through the end credits which are possibly more entertaining than the film itself.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10