Directors: Alexandre Aja
Tits and blood. Blood and tits.
Piranha sells itself largely on being mindless entertainment, with a steady mix of T&A and violence. The story certainly has little thought put into it — prehistoric piranhas are unearthed in Lake Havasu via an earthquake, and they come back to terrorize everyone in the water, including dozens involved in a Girls Gone Wild-esque video shoot. This is a movie that doesn’t need a meaningful story, just a background for the copious amounts of the aforementioned tits and blood.
I went into this movie expecting it to be pretty hilarious while delivering some good ol’ fashioned gore. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of humor, and the gore doesn’t really become a factor until the second half of the movie. The first half is basically softcore porn, with lots of naked women rumaging about. While I’m not one to complain about gratuitous nudity, there just isn’t a whole lot going on during this part, and it is actually a bit of a bore. Things pick up in the second half when the piranhas descend upon the masses at the beach, and there are a number of great cringe-worthy gore effects used during the chaos. The problem is that it just takes too long to get anywhere.
What makes this movie stand out amongst other B-movie trash is its surprisingly impressive cast. Elisabeth Shue has one of the main roles as the town’s sheriff. Jerry O’Connell plays the douche bag porn director, and is more than effective at being annoying. Ving Rhames has a small role as a deputy, and he is responsible for one of the best scenes in the movie (let’s just say he did his part in fighting back against the piranhas). Christopher Lloyd is entertaining as a crazed marine biologist. Somehow even Richard Dreyfuss got roped into this movie, although his early cameo is wasted with a weak CGI scene. Throw in a handful of porn stars and you have the makings for a big-time B-movie.
I wish I had seen Piranha in 3D at a packed theater — that really seems to be the best way to experience this movie. While I enjoy some good camp from time to time, Piranha doesn’t hold up very well on DVD. I can’t help but feel this could have been better with just a little more focus, and less of a decisive split between the two halves of the movie. If you are tempted, give it a shot with plenty of booze and friends on hand; otherwise, I can’t say this is worth your time.