Every year the population of sleepy Lake Victoria explodes from 5,000 to 50,000 for Spring Break, a riot of sun and drunken fun. But this year, there's something more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local old timers; a new type of terror is about to be cut loose on Lake Victoria. After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the areas new razor-toothed residents.

3
Blood in the water = money in the bank.

Occasionally a reviewer has no choice but to dismount from his high horse, set aside minor considerations such as intelligence and good taste, and evaluate a film strictly on the basis of whether or not it delivers to its targeted audience.

In that context, Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D will satisfy anyone who craves the spectacle of jiggling jugs, mild, nude girl-on-girl action, lots of gore and the ritual slaughter of hapless humans by carnivorous piscine predators. And all in the third dimension so the viewer is treated to the immersive experiences of being vomited on by a drunken teenager and sprayed with beer, a milkshake and fake blood. Anyone seeking something more uplifting or enriching is advised to check out Step Up 3D.

The preview audience in Sydney laughed quite often, indicating this cheesy, very loose remake of Joe Dante’s 1978 cult horror/comedy pic Piranha is perversely funny rather than flat-out scary.

The screenplay by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg (who collaborated on the little-seen 2009 horror flick Sorority Row) sets the irreverent tone right from the start as Richard Dreyfuss’ fisherman is eviscerated before the opening credits while he’s crooning 'Show Me the Way to Go Home,' a riff on the rather more memorable character he played in Jaws.

The discovery of his mutilated corpse on the shores of a lake resort in Arizona, just as horny college kids are gathering for Spring Break, poses a challenge for sassy sheriff Julie (Elisabeth Shue) and her gruff deputy (Ving Rhames).

Meanwhile, Julie’s teenage son Jake (Steven R. McQueen, 22-year-old grandson of the legendary Steve, making his movie debut) gets hired as a location consultant by Derrick (Jerry O’Connell), the obnoxious, coke-sniffing producer of Girls Gone Wild-type soft porn videos. Jake sets sail with Derrick and a bevy of bikini-clad beauties including the girl he fancies (Gossip Girl’s Jessica Szohr) when he should be at home minding his precocious kid sister and brother.

The killer fish start picking off their victims, starting with two deep sea divers, and soon there’s a lot of shredding of limbs in inventive ways, screaming, cries of 'Oh My God!' and litres of blood (or tomato sauce) in the water. Derrick’s grisly demise was greeted with hoots of laughter and a smattering of applause. Christopher Lloyd makes a brief appearance as a crazy marine biologist to helpfully explain this breed of fish, which emerged from a long-buried lake, and hasn’t been seen for two million years.

The film was shot in 2D and converted in post production so it’s hardly state of the art and looks rather fake in some scenes. However, kudos to the visual effects crew and to Aja (who did The Hills Have Eyes remake) for making much of the mayhem look real.

As for the acting, well, little is asked for or displayed. It would be unfair to judge the young McQueen’s chances of emulating his famous grandfather on the basis of this performance.

There’s no point in complaining about this kind of frivolous piece of B-grade schlock: Piranha 3D opened with $US10.1 million last weekend in the US, which was enough for the producers, Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s Dimension Films, to green-light a sequel. We have been warned.

Piranha 3D

Wednesday 4 December, 11:10PM on SBS VICELAND (airs after broadcast at SBS On Demand)

MA15+
USA, 2010
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Language: English
Director: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, Adam Scott
What's it about?
Every year the population of sleepy Lake Victoria explodes from 5,000 to 50,000 for Spring Break, a riot of sun and drunken fun. But this year, there's something more to worry about than hangovers and complaints from local old timers; a new type of terror is about to be cut loose on Lake Victoria. After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the areas new razor-toothed residents.


Watch an interview with genre supremo Joe Dante here

Details

1 hour 28 min
In Cinemas 26 August 2010,
Thu, 12/30/2010 - 11

Genres