Genre: Comedy/Thriller Director: John Gulager Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Chris Zylka, David Koechner, Meagan Tandy, Paul James Jordan, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Hector Jimenez, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, Paul Scheer, Katrina Bowden, Adrian Martinez, Clu Gulager Runtime: 1 hr 23 mins Rating: M18 Released By: Golden Village Pictures Official Website:http://piranha3ddmovie.com/
Opening Day: 14 June 2012
Synopsis: Having awoken from their spring break extravaganza at Lake Victoria, the swarm heads upstream where they look to make a meal out of Big Wet, a local water park where when it comes to fun, nobody does it wetter! Though they came to get wet, get loaded and get some, the staff and patrons get more than they bargained for when they must face the fiercest, most bloodthirsty piranhas yet. Lead by the strong-willed, studious Maddy and her friends, Barry and Kyle, the trio must dive in and take on these man-eating creatures using every ounce of their being...but can they be stopped?
It might have been a B-movie, but 2010’s ‘Piranha 3D’ was a wickedly funny horror comedy that mixed bikinis, boobs, bodies and blood for a gory good time. Unfortunately, its filmmaker Alexandre Aja doesn’t return for its sequel (whose title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the size of a certain female anatomy the movie boasts countless gratuitous shots of), and along with Aja’s departure sadly is the series’ savvy sense of self-parody- so much so that ‘Piranha 3DD’ ends up typifying, rather than defying as its predecessor did, its genre stereotype as a Bad-movie.
To be sure, plot and character was far from our consideration when we approached this movie- after all, both would have simply been functional devices for the movie to get from one bloodbath to another. Here, the trio of B-horror screenwriters Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soisson move the setting from the waters of Lake Victoria to a water park known as ‘The Big Wet’, owned by the sleazy but enterprising Chet (David Koechner) who intends to re-open the place with former strippers as lifeguards and an adults-only nudist pool.
Confining the action to one location could have meant a more intense experience, but neither the screenwriters nor director John Gulager are adroit enough to do so. Instead, they let more than half the movie pass before the blood-splattering finale; and when it comes, they rush through it in such a haphazard manner with nary a care for build-up or continuity that it becomes little more than a bloody mess (pardon the pun).
Of course, you can’t say the warning signs were not there from the start. Hewing closely to Aja’s template from the original, Gulager’s first sequence involves a cameo by B-movie veteran Gary Busey to herald the return of the carnivorous fish- but the perfunctory manner in which it is filmed matches neither the smarts nor the thrills of “Jaws” alumnus Richard Dreyfuss’ cameo in Aja’s. Ditto for the strip-and-tease sequences that follow- one where a couple accidentally slide into the lake while having kinky sex at the back of their van is unexciting to say the least; while another with the requisite skinny-dipping teenage couple barely raises the temperature before ending all too abruptly.
To be fair, Gulager preserves the latter for a more schlocky sequence in which said couple’s first act of making love with each other ends up with the male’s penis getting cut off after getting bitten by a baby piranha within the female’s vagina. This is about the only sequence that matches the gleefully subversive sense of humour from the original (remember the one where two busty girls get chomped up sans their silicone enhancements), but even in what is undoubtedly the highlight of the film, there is a distinct self-consciousness to Gulager’s attempt to top the shock value of his predecessor.
The same goes for the display of nudity in the movie, where every available opportunity within the water park becomes exploited for some cheap shot of “double DDs” cavorting around the pool or bouncing down waterslides. Certainly, B-movies like this are built on excess, but there needs to be some restraint before the excess goes into overkill. Gulager unfortunately overkills both the nudity and the gore in the film, and without method to the mayhem, you’ll soon become indifferent to what was meant to provoke and/or titillate.
As if mirroring our numbness to the chaos onscreen, the acting by a rag-tag group of B-teen actors are particularly lifeless. You’ll care little about the fates of Chet’s marine-biologist stepdaughter Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), or her ex-boyfriend and town sheriff Kyle (Chris Zylka), or her nerdy but nice best friend Barry (Matt Bush)- let alone their obligatory love triangle. Getting David Hasselhoff to play himself in the form of a washed-out celebrity lifeguard post-Baywatch is fun at the start, but Gulager’s heavy-handed tendencies means that the wink-wink perf gets stretched to the point of tedium.
The ineptness of this sequel is a pity really- for we were so looking forward to more of the B-movie exploitation thrills that ‘Piranha 3D’ let its audience chew on the last time round. But even with the key elements- babes, boobs and blood- intact, this is a largely toothless attempt at recapturing the sly humour and visceral excitement of the original. It is even more pointless in 3D, deployed in such a thoughtless fashion that its only purpose seems to be to cause an unnecessary strain to the eye.
(If there is any truth to the saying ‘the bigger the boobs, the smaller the brains’, then this sequel- with an extra ‘D’ in its title- is proof of that)