Piranha 3DD (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Piranha 3DD (2012)

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I was not a fan of the Alexandre Aja tounge-in-cheek reboot / sequel Piranha 3D that was released a couple of years back.  Geek show violence films always make me a bit uncomfortable and their entertainment value is a bit suspect.  I can respect, to a point, an artist that can find a bunch of creative ways to unleash horror on unsuspecting innocents but once the initial charge of morbid humor dies down I'm never left with much.

The biggest difference between Piranha 3D and Piranha 3DD, a film that signals its intentions pretty clearly with the title alone, is that the former is a film made by an artist prowling around a b-movie set and the latter actually is the kind of Roger Corman film its predecessor was aping philosophically.  Piranha 3DD is a crass mess, made on the cheap, with awful special effects and a misplaced tendency to pander to a crowd that gets yuks by recognizing familiar faces in an attempt to be "so bad it's awesome."  Within the first thirty minutes we've got Gary Busey, Christopher Lloyd, and David Hasselhoff all chomping at the bit to overact in the public persona they've each garnered over the years.

Lloyd, in particular, is an example of the problem plaguing this sequel.  He was already playing a version of himself in the earlier film and now makes repeated angry faces chomping at the piranha he keeps at home.  What with the "DD" in the title no one should be surprised at the lack of subtlety, but a barely significant portion of it makes the film entertaining.

This is the stylistic high of the movie, vaguely defined figures wading through dark water.  It's not exactly inspiring.

I'm actually a bit amazed at the way the film deflates itself in the opening scene.  There are recycled shots of the same breast and butt filled opening party scenes of Piranha 3D while a local television broadcast tells the story of how the piranha menace was eradicated by eliminating all life from the lake they stalked one year ago.  So a few minutes in the movie tells us about this terribly interesting visual and situation (Just how did they burn all life from the lake?) without a single original shot to showcase it.

The lack of originality extends to the way the piranhas come back.  The previous film opened with a fisherman being devoured by the piranhas and this film does the exact same thing.  The only difference starts when the movie shifts not so ominously to the nearby water park, The Big Wet, where a plucky marine biologist (Danielle Panabaker) finds out how close the piranhas are to the piping system of the park.  It's about here my general distaste grew into a couple of moments that caused me to dry heave.

The Big Wet is a combination strip club and water park where the staff are having sex with the jets, as opposed to each other, and the owner (David Koechner) vows that if you have DD's you swim for free.  The basic physical philosophy behind the park is disgusting enough, including a "snatch cam" to watch the strippers as they get out of the pool and a dubious health code that involves extra chlorine and employees who jump in each others vomit.  This leads to a token 3D shot of the various chunks flying at the screen and about where I nearly returned the favor.

Start the clock for the slow motion run.

If you haven't quite gathered it yet, this film has an abhorrent treatment of women.  There are no scenes like in the first film where naked swimmers drift around to the sounds of The Flower Duet in a mock celebration of a porn director's dream come true.  It's clear from the poster that you're going to see plenty of topless women run toward the camera in slow motion, an effect heightened by the presence of Hasselhoff, but the violence is disturbingly directed at the vagina.  This isn't even in a metaphorical sense, one of the future dead teenagers gets her vagina shredded by the piranhas in a van early on, one gets pregnant by the piranhas, and the lead still has a dead piranha using it's death gasp to make one last lunge for her vagina.

I suppose there's an attempt to even the playing field in the films most gruesome scene involving a piranha, a penis, and a knife, but the majority of the violence swings in the direction of the women.  This isn't an attempt at commentary on the horror slaughterhouse genre as a whole as opposed to a crass utilization of it.  What few moments of humor that work do step back from this approach and mock the absurdity of it all, especially a great late film cameo from someone who should know better than to get back in the water, but they're sparing.

For those who just want to watch some blood and breasts Piranha 3DD will suffice.  The rest of us will echo Hasselhoff's sentiment at the water park, "This is rock bottom."

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Piranha 3DD (2012)

Directed by John Gulager.
Screenplay by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Joel Soisson.
Starring Danielle Panabaker, David Koechner, and Christopher Lloyd.

Posted by Andrew

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