Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Chris Zylka, Katrina Bowden, Adrian Martinez, Paul James Jordan, Meagan Tandy, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Scheer, Gary Busey, Clu Gulager
Directed by John Gulager
Expectations: High. I’ve been very excited to see this, hoping for a sequel that recaptures the horror/comedy of the 2010 remake.
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
Long story short: This movie contains none of the guilty fun of the original. It’s not that Piranha 3DD is pure shit, it’s more that it’s a shameless cash-in, it’s obvious and it squanders an opportunity to deliver another horribly debaucherous, gory good time. I thought the 2010 remake, Piranha 3D, was hopelessly shitty, but it was made with such style and filled with such inventive gore that I couldn’t help but become enamored with it. It seriously had no business being as funny and gore-tastic as it was. So when I heard there was a sequel looming, I instantly become excited and hoped it could live up to its predecessor. Maybe if previous director Alexandre Aja was still around, but this time we get John Gulager, the man who brought the world the Feast trilogy, of which I have seen none (and based on the strength of this one, I won’t be changing that anytime soon).
Piranha 3DD opens with a scene that holds no significance or bearing on the tale that I can remember. It features Gary Busey and his buddy hunting around a lake in the dark of night for their cow. How or why their cow is in the lake we will never know, but when they do find said cow, it’s dead, rather gassy, and it involuntarily shoots a couple of piranha eggs out its ass. Oh, if only I had paid for the 3D! While fish eggs from a dead cow’s ass might whet your cinematic appetite, don’t be fooled! The film actually focuses on a water park recently taken over by a money-hungry dude who hires strippers for lifeguards and designates one of the pools as an “Adult Pool,” complete with condom dispensers poolside and a “Cooch Cam.”
Piranha 3DD has an interesting release cycle, and one that seems to be becoming more prevalent among independent films (even though this is from Dimension, and therefore not a true indie). The movie was simultaneously released in limited engagements in major market theaters (only 86 screens, a ridiculously small number) and made available via On Demand and Amazon. This has to have been a great move for them, as I imagine horror fans wishing to check this out are much more likely to pull the trigger on a $6.99 Amazon rental than drive however long it is to the nearest theater. And oh fuck, I could not imagine the sheer crushing disappointment if you actually drove an hour or more to see this steaming egg out of a dead cow’s ass.
So if you saw the 2010 Piranha film (and why would you watch this if you hadn’t), you would probably go into this expecting comedy, gore and titties, all in plentiful quantities. Well, I didn’t laugh once. Not once. Not a chuckle, not a smile, not even a shoulder shrug. Jokes are there (you bet your dead cow’s ass there are!), it’s just that they’re so flat that they literally make no impression. I can’t even recall one to try to relate it to you, although I’m sure if I could you’d all lose interest mid-sentence.
The gore is similarly scaled back, with the film primarily following the low-budget standard operating procedure of just smearing blood on people and waving the camera around without actually showing anything. There is a benefit to be gained from reservation in horror directing, but before you start thinking we have the next Hitchcock on our hands, remember the dead cow’s ass. It’s mostly smoke, mirrors and a lot of really abstract, orange-ish underwater shots of piranhas doing something nasty to someone. I’d tell you more, but the action is mostly undecipherable. Outside of the water, there are some better moments of gore. There’s a couple of decapitations, and in spite of both being obvious CG, they look fairly well done. The best moment comes when one man is given a horrible penis-focused choice that will have every guy in the audience squirming. I dare you not to. OK, I take it back. I don’t want anyone to actually watch this in hopes of proving themselves to me via dare. Other than this small moment, the gore is otherwise of the variety that attempts to push the boundaries of taste, but instead comes off as stupid and juvenile. Oh look, there’s a piranha lodged in the ass of the guy that was fucking the pool jet! Shit like that. If you laughed at that, maybe you should watch this. In the hands of Troma, something like this would have truly pushed boundaries, but here it comes off as somewhat tame and too easy.
OK, but the titties! It’s gotta deliver on that! Again, I’m sorry to say that the count is actually quite low, and we are treated to more slow-motion action from David Hasselhoff’s saggy pecs than anything even close to resembling titillation. Most of the breasts are all shown in quick cuts during establishing montages and shit like that. Which is fine because I came for the gore, but when your film has 3DD in the title, part of its tagline is “Double the D’s” and the film you’re a sequel to featured porn stars-turned-actresses swimming nude for extended periods of the film, you can’t expect people not to be disappointed by these paltry offerings. What is here is definitely in the gratuitous category, but I was under the impression that these Piranha movies were single-handedly trying to restart the exploitation genre, so I expected more.
The film also has ridiculous logic, and not in the fun B-Movie sort of way. Like after the first girl dies we are shown her body at the bottom of the lake with only her face barely eaten off. Huh? Did the piranhas decide they didn’t like the service at this restaurant? Did they fill up on bread before their meal arrived? Is it because she was black, and the piranhas are racist? WHAT THE FUCK? I don’t need to see her bones picked clean, but at least that would make sense! And why are we even being shown this anyway? She died like forty minutes prior and it’s just a random shot of her underwater with no connection to anything. C’mon!
The direction is standard at best. It goes between clichéd, average conversations featuring ugly over-the-shoulder shots to shaky-cam, much-too-close action scenes where the camera consistently only captures half of the shot that should be there and then quickly whips back and forth in an effort to give the film a realism informed by the best in camcorder technology. I don’t know about you, but I’m able to buy the realism of a scene without resorting to the camera techniques of my six-year-old nephew.
Piranha 3DD is the perfect example of a cash-in, taking a remake that had no business being as entertaining and funny as it was and amplifying the worst elements of it into a sequel. This is one of those movies where they don’t care if you hated it, just as long as you paid to see it. It’s not even fun in a B-Movie way because you can tell there was a squandered but sizable budget backing this one up. Charles Band could have made his next fifteen movies with the same budget (supposedly somewhere around $8 million) and the combined entertainment of even half of those would have far outweighed what we got here. I usually don’t regret watching movies I didn’t enjoy, or say clichéd things like, “There’s two hours I’ll never get back,” but there’s two hours I’ll never get back and fuck if I don’t regret watching Piranha 3DD. I really should have heeded the warnings of the early reviews on this one.
Oh and let’s make sure to roll out those end credits as slowly as possible to pad the runtime to barely feature-length, and hey why not throw in some outtakes between the credits while we’re at it! Yep, between the credits, as in there aren’t any credits overlaid on the outtakes, further padding the runtime. I do love outtakes, so that was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the film, but here they serve a barely veiled purpose that I can’t get behind.
If I can say anything nice, it’s that Danielle Panabaker & Katrina Bowden both did great acting jobs in their roles, in addition to being very easy on the eyes. Hasselhoff’s cameo is also a good one, but it’s better in theory than actual practice. I did like the use of the Baywatch theme though. I also like the idea of theatrical/VOD day-and-date film releases, but don’t watch this one. Really. I know you’re curious to see an egg pop from a dead cow’s ass, but it’s just not worth it.