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Review: Piranha 3DD

'Giant killer fish aren’t necessarily scary, but every time they attack it’s satisfying.'

 

Piranha 3DD is more fun than Piranha 3D, the original remake (if that’s a thing), because it is more ridiculous. Piranha 3D was as graphically outrageous as can be in 3D, but 3DD is more creatively outrageous. It embraces the sleaze for a good time.

This time the killer piranhas invade a water park. I know, I know, how can piranha get into pool water? Well, how can they get into a lake? The explanation probably makes too much sense. Sleazy co-owner of the water park Chet (David Koechner) has actually stolen water from the lake, so all the piranhas come with it. His niece and minority shareholder Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) tries to warn him about the dangers of stealing water (without even knowing about piranhas) and hiring strippers for lifeguards, but what can you do? If they listened to Sheriff Brody there’d be no Jaws or Jaws 2.

Clearly the filmmakers, led by “Project Greenlight” winner and Feast director John Gulager, know what kind of movie this is and they have fun with it. They get a lot of the gratuitous nudity out of the way early on, and the 3D brings you almost uncomfortably close to the lovely bodies. Katrina Bowden plays the town virgin, which is a knowing twist on both her hottie reputation and the stereotype of the chaste girl in the horror movie. The events take place in Merkin County if that’s too subtle for you.

3DD is funnier than the previous Piranha. Chet hires David Hasselhoff (David Hasselhoff) as a celebrity lifeguard and it’s more than just the obvious joke. Gulager also has fun with the format of horror movies. He pulls the “zolly” shot from Jaws (dolly and zoom simultaneously) three times because three is always funnier. Slow motion jiggling is a punch line, not a sincere attempt at eroticism.

The piranhas go more places this time. They were just in the water before, but now they end up going places that are both physically and biologically impossible. That’s cool though. It’s a movie. I don’t think they jump out of the screen as much though. There are a few, but I think you’d enjoy Piranha 3DD just as much if you watch it on VOD. It’s the kills and the jokes that are fun, not the 3D of it.

The callbacks to the previous movie are great. Some of them are already in the trailer so I don’t want to spoil anymore. They blatantly torture some poor traumatized characters for our amusement.

There are some great sequences that aren’t as big as the previous film’s Spring Break massacre, but are exciting in their own right. A scene where Maddy and Shelby (Bowden) have to escape a collapsing pier is like something out of a disaster movie. Shelby’s love scene is both crude and innocent at the same time. The best parts are still the confusing jumble of panicking swimmers in the pools and waterslides.

Gulager is having fun messing with us, but he’s a little sloppy with the camera and editing. In true grindhouse horror style, it seems like Gulager got as much footage as he could in a short amount of time, but was missing some connective tissue of how characters got from one shot to the next. It doesn’t ruin the fun but it could’ve gone to the next level.

Sometimes the kills get a little too stupid. One involves a van rolling into the water, and the victim flails around until it’s too late to even try the parking brake, if she’d even thought of that as a possible solution. It’s a great idea to bring a land vehicle into piranha territory and I think we’re supposed to enjoy how silly it is, but it seems out of place even considering what I just described above.

Nitpicks aside, Piranha 3DD knows exactly what it should be and exceeds expectations for such. The filmmaking quibbles are real, but at least they got the tone and the comedy right. Giant killer fish aren’t necessarily scary, but every time they attack it’s satisfying.