Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Piranha Meal Deal A Bit Fishy


Why do major studios spend big money to make B-movies? Attempting to recapture that “it’s so bad that it’s good” appeal which certain B-movies have is rarely achieved by today’s standards. Sure there have been exceptions, most notably Black Dynamite and, to a lesser extent, Machete. Yet more often than not the films end up being plain silly. This is evident when you watch films such as Drag Me to Hell, My Bloody Valentine 3D and the recent release of Piranha.

After living for millions of years in a tomb underwater, thousands of fearsome prehistoric piranhas are released after an tremor occurs. Fortunately for the piranhas there is plenty of food available as the tremor just happens to coincide with the annual Lake Victoria Spring Break week. Soon sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) and a marine biologist, Novak (Adam Scott) find themselves trying to not only stop the piranha invasion, but attempting to save Julie’s son, Jack (Steven R. McQueen), and the object of his affection, Kelly (Jessica Szohr), in the process.

It is hard to truly classify Piranha as a horror film as it aims to be more of a reimaging of the original Piranha film series. The problem is that the film does not know when to quit. It is like a joke that is no longer funny, yet the comedian is still trying to get as much mileage out of it as possible. For example, a good portion of Piranha is dedicated to spoofing the whole Girls Gone Wild franchise. Besides being several years late in regards to the subject, there is a point where the film becomes the very thing it is spoofing.

Every aspect of the film, with the exception of the plot, is done to great excess. Both the nudity and the violence are so gratuitous that the film ends up being a cheesy comedy instead of a horror movie. Similar to director Alexandre Aja’s previous films, The Hills Have Eyes and High Tension, Piranha has numerous scenes where Aja goes to extremes to generate some form of reaction from the audience. He fills the screen with scenes of the piranhas eating male and female genitalia, severing various limbs, and even a scene where a piranha devours a woman from inside out. Yet unlike his earlier works, these scenes do nothing more than causes fits of laughter instead of screams of terror.

If anything, the most shocking thing about Piranha is the cast that the film manages to pull together. Besides Shue, the film features the likes of Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfuss, Jerry O’Connell, Christopher Lloyd, and even Eli Roth. It is perplexing to imagine what drew them all to this particular film? As neither the plot nor the campy humor is really that appealing. Out of all of the actors, only O’Connell and Lloyd seem to hit the right over-the-top tone that the film aims for. Elisabeth Shue does the best she can with the material she is given, but the fact that someone with her talent even did this film is probably the scariest thing of all. 


  1. I love the fact Richard Dreyfuss goes back to the water ala Jaws but can't for the life of me think why he decided to star in a film bound to be bad. I haven't seen it yet but Piranha and 3D gets the film off to a bad start - I generally hate remakes, and I'm not sold on 3D yet. :(

  2. Dan - Richard Dreyfuss has had a string of bad cameos of late. Not sure where is career is going at the moment. I would say that you would be fine to skip this one altogether.


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