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Review: Piranha 3DD (2012)

Piranha 3DD (2012)

Directed by: John Gulager

Premise: A sequel to the 2010 film Piranha 3D. Following the events of the first film, a school of piranha invades a waterpark.

What Works: Piranha 3DD attempts to be funny and there are a few light moments involving David Hasselhoff. The Baywatch actor plays himself and there are a few self-deprecating moments that might make the viewer smile.

What Doesn’t: The previous Piranha film was trashy but it was also successful as a guilty pleasure. It embraced the values of exploitation filmmaking and managed to create some striking images, both horrific and erotic. The sequel fails at both. The very title Piranha 3DD says quite a bit about what kind of film this is but to criticize it for being sexist is redundant and would elevate the film to a regard that it simply does not deserve. Although its title plays up the lurid pornographic qualities, the movie isn’t even good at that. Like a lot of contemporary pornographers, the filmmakers behind Piranha 3DD have no understanding for how to use a camera as a sensual instrument. The best they can do is imitate the styles of soft core porn on late night cable but even then Piranha 3DD looks worse by comparison. It is an irony that the previous Piranha film featured a character modeled on Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis and the picture had fun at the character’s expense. Piranha 3DD looks more like a film that this character would have made. Part of the reason for that is found in the filmmaker’s feeble attempts at comedy. The bawdy humor reveals what the filmmakers were trying to do: they weren’t inspired by Alexandre Aja’s remake or Joe Dante’s original; they were inspired by 1980s sex comedies like Hardbodies and Porky’s. That is the sensibility with which this film has been made and just like those comedies from thirty years ago this film isn’t very funny. At some point amid the filmmakers’ attempt to make a retro sex comedy, they remember that this is supposed to be a horror film and sporadically the school of fish attack people. Piranha 3DD isn’t scary at all and the filmmakers can’t even get the gore right, much less set up an atmosphere of dread. There aren’t many piranha attacks in the film and when they do happen the film fumbles their execution. Many of the film’s best attempts to shock are blatantly ripped off of better films like Critters, Teeth and Shivers. Between the bad humor and the nonexistent scares, the whole movie is quite boring. But if there is one quality overlying Piranha 3DD, it is the incredible cheapness of the production. The entire picture is only eighty-two minutes long and of that twelve minutes are dedicated to end credits that are padded with outtakes. The special effects look terrible, especially the digital effects. The image quality of Piranha 3DD looks as though the film were shot on a department store video camera; there are homemade videos on Youtube with greater cinematic merit. There is really no excuse for the shoddiness of the production. The film reportedly cost $20 million to make whereas the original Piranha cost an estimated $600,000 (or about $2 million adjusted for inflation) and was a far superior picture. And that is the final impression left by the film: its makers clearly had no ambition to even try and make a good or entertaining film.

Bottom Line: It is one thing to make exploitation films but quite another to fail so completely at it. Piranha 3DD isn’t even enjoyable trash.

Episode: #392 (June 17, 2012)