Piranha 3D (2010)

Alexandre Aja’s latest remake feels so utterly lazy and muddled and idiotic that it seems like the studio just threw a few million dollars his way and asked him to just throw as much blood and guts to the screen as humanly possible. And I imagine it was the easiest payday this man ever saw. From minute one Aja’s film wants to be taken on so many levels. It wants to be a political commentary, a schlock cult film, and a satire of schlock films, it doesn’t take itself seriously, but it depicts violence so realistically.

At one point Jerry O’Connell is lying along the deck of a boat with a mangled torso crying about how his penis was chewed off, cut to the piranha’s swallowing his dismembered penis underwater, chewing it and coughing it up for the screen, and then immediately pan to a wide shot of a mass of party goers crying, nursing their horrific wounds and tending to one another while melodramatic music plays. Are we supposed to be laughing still or should we empathize with these people the director makes clear are morons? Never have I seen a horror movie so completely confused toward its actual intent and for that “Piranha 3D” is barely an entertaining experience, even on a base idiotic level. At times the violence is so realistically rendered it’s almost impossible to laugh at, and on the flipside the movie begs you to giggle at violence that is much too disturbing to endure.

Barely clocking in at eighty minutes, there isn’t a lot of real purpose for “Piranha 3D” beyond grabbing cash, and making as much money off of the 3D process as possible. About eighty percent of the film revolves around about as much T&A and sexual content as humanly possible, all the while building up to the inevitable massacre at the lake during spring break that is sickening and intense, but ruined by Aja’s clearly confused story’s tone. Between the massive amounts of nudity and girl on girl, and extended slow motion shots of nudity and girl on girl, there is a salt grain of story that is only served as a way to kill time until Aja can fill in more CGI piranha’s chomping at people’s innards and splashing through the ocean.

Jake is an outcast, he has a rambunctious outspoken sister and a bratty little brother, his mother is the sheriff thus Jake is an outcast, and he harbors a crush on local girl Kelli, a boring love interest who teases Jake adamantly and gets her jollies off of making him swoon. There’s your story. Christopher Lloyd has a boring cameo as an eccentric scientist (What a stretch!), Ving Rhames is a tough talking brute (Way to stay in your comfort zone), and Elizabeth Shue looks aptly bored most of the time she’s on-screen playing a hard boiled sheriff tasked with keeping the partiers out of the water and saving her family all of whom find excuses to head in to the middle of the water with no rescue possible. Granted, “Piranha” is not the worst movie of the year, but it fails in being an entertaining satire and a competent horror film.

Everyone in the production feels on literal auto-drive and Alexandre Aja just pisses away his potential more and more with every remake he’s brought aboard to feed the masses. Sure it feels like I just didn’t get the joke, but I tried to put myself in every conceivable mindset during the film and was disappointed that even breasts floating and water was an ultimately flat experience. I don’t mind mindless gore soaked entertainment every now and again, but only when its done with a hint of creativity and innovation and not so lazily assembled. Much as I wanted to adore this film to pieces, and I really did, “Piranha 3D” is sadly just a lazy rehash that is never sure what it wants to be. Is it a campy horror movie, a satire of B movies, a spoof of environmental disaster films, or is Alexandre Aja just garnering an easy paycheck for the third time around? I’m betting it’s the latter.