Let’s just get this out in the open – Piranha 3-D is a fun movie. This is not to say that it’s a good movie just that it’s entertaining and fun especially in 3-D. All you need to know in terms of the story is that during Spring Break in a small town an earthquake uncovers and underground lake separated from the world for millions of years and the only thing living there all millions of prehistoric piranha who have survived by feeding on themselves. Now that the world above them is open they have an all new food source and they’re going to take advantage.
Written by Pete Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg and directed by Alexandre Aja this film is a love song to the monster films of the ’80s only with more money and 3-D special effects. Despite the excellent SFX, this is nothing more than another SyFy channel movie. The reason why I enjoy Aja’s previous films is that he can take a seemingly simple concept and turn it on its head. With Haute Tension (2003) he took a slasher movie and made it into a suspenseful character love story (of sorts) film and with his remake of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) he improved upon Wes Craven’s original by adding subtext to an otherwise straight forward horror film and with P2 (2007) he helped craft a tension filled two character trapped in one location thriller. What makes those films stand out is the focus on character and subtext all of which his newest film Piranha lacks.
Aja has repeatedly stated that he wanted to make a fun and entertaining thrill ride which this film is but if that’s all audiences wanted then they could get that every Saturday night on the SyFy channel. It’s up to film makers like Aja to be better than that and to produce films better than the run of the mill that can be found on television. The problem with these types of films is that they speak down to the audience and horror fans hate to be spoken down to. No matter how much spectacle if there is no substance than its nothing more than a very loud film.
I do love the fact that the film has a huge cast with Elizabeth Shue (always been a HUGE fan), Ving Rhames, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, Dina Meyer, Richardo Chivara, Jerry O’Connell, Adam Scott, and Eli Roth, to name a few. This cast alone was worth the ticket price despite my other misgivings about the film (but like I said I’m a big fan of Shue’s) and the 3-D SFX were phenomenal (on par with those in My Bloody Valentine 3-D), so, not everything is bad with the film.