Piranha 3D

Whereas this weekend’s Shark Night 3D was a PG-13 rated “gorefest” (see: there are no PG-13 rated gorefests), last summer’s entry into the “killer-fish” genre did everything right with boobs, blood, bullets and a deservedly hard R rating: Piranha 3D.

Beginning with a nice nod to the grand-daddy of the “fish-killer” genre (Spielberg’s Jaws), Piranha 3D casts Richard Dreyfuss in a cameo as the first unfortunate soul to discover the long-dormant prehistoric man-eaters (rendered in gruesomely awful CGI – the piranhas in the earlier sequences are something out of a Windows 98 game) and then does something shocking: develop characters for the next half-hour.

For a film that strives to do nothing more than titillate and shock for an hour and half, Piranha 3D surprisingly creates characters that are more fleshed-out than the typical archetypes and nameless fodder of lesser man-eating fish films. Jake (Steven McQueen) is a seventeen year-old living in Spring Break mecca – Lake Victoria – where every year thousands of co-eds arrive to party, have sex, and get naked. Except he doesn’t get to enjoy the festivities – his mom (Elisabeth Shue) is the sheriff and every year Jake is tasked with babysitting his two siblings for the week. But this year, a trashy Girls-Gone-Wild director (played by a manic Jerry O’Connell) hires Jake to take him and his starlets (Kelly Brook, Riley Steele) out to the hot spots of the area for some truly great Spring Break footage. Cue the undersea rumblings of thousands of hungry piranhas, an overwhelmed police force, and plenty of drunken revellers making poor decisions.

Piranha 3D never aspires to be more than enjoyable trash and meets it lowbrow goals admirably. There’s plenty to enjoy – the vicious piranhas efficiently strip human beings to little more than a pile of bones (with great special effects work) and a blood spurting climax that takes the lives of an estimable thousand people (the film apparently went through 75K gallons of fake blood a day).

While watching the film in 2D can be a little jarring (there are plenty of sequences where random objects fly at the screen) Piranha 3D is a welcome entry in the splatter genre and well worth the $6 to buy a used DVD copy. Hell, you could buy three for the price of seeing Shark Night 3D alone.

Grade: C+

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