Film: Piranha 3D

[Apparently, today there’s a weird issue in the middle of this text…just read around it.]

Another triumphant foray into recent horror cinema abounds!

After much intense discussion, I finally found myself settling in with a Coca-Cola big enough to swim in and my trusty Raisinettes to watch Alexandre Aja’s latest offering Piranha 3D. Now, first let me orient myself. I love Aja, I wrote a very intense paper on his last film, Mirrors in my first semester of graduate school and find him to be one of the few directors who take horror to the intense, disgusting and perverse conclusions I so desperately yearn for. Furthermore, I like seeing movies in 3D. I am childlike in my enthusiasm for 3D films, I gasp, lunge and cower with ferocious reliability.  I am also incredibly terrified of things that live in the water and could kill me. This is pretty irrational: I grew up in a landlocked country, I am a strong swimmer and I have researched dealing with and avoiding all creatures who fall into this discription extensively. That said, my childhood was haunted with stories about people being “taken by crocs” on Lake Kariba or on the shores of the Zambezi river and their mangled, half-eaten, water-logged corpses washing up weeks later and once I saw a Portuguese Man o’ War on the beach while on holiday when I was seven. Needless to say, I am NOT down with Shark Week.

Naturally, I had to go see Piranha 3D. What could be better than a movie about thousands of maniacal little fish eating everything in sight in a crazed, pack mentality for a wProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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er phobic horror fan?

I will preface this further by saying, I do not get scared. I am hardcorProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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And I watch a lot of horror movies. I watch them late at night, in the dark, all alone with the door unlocked and then I go to bed.  I am a badass and nothing scares me.

Except sexy teenagers being nommed to bits by angry little fish.

Wow. This movie is impressive. It’s impressive because it skillfully pays tribute to creature features of yore, it drives the plot into a tree at the end and you barely mind, there are lots of scantily clad girls, and a lot of them get their legs eaten off. Awesome.

The narrative revolves around Lake Victoria, where thousands of the aforementioned sexy teenagers and scantily clad girls have a rambunctious and awesome spring break week long bonanza. Unfortunately, while party week is happening there’s also a dollop of deep earth indigestion and an earthquake occurs, thereby creating a passage between a giant subterranean lake and the lake on the surface…a perfect passage to unleash thousands of prehistoric piranhas. Also, there’s some kid (Jake) who’s mom is the town Sheriff. Jake has a crush on a cute local girl, and is foolishly trusted by his mother to babysit is two alarmingly blond siblings. Mom, being the Sheriff and all is like “stay away from the lake, srsly, there’s something going on.” She fails to mention that she are her trusty sidekick found the horrifically mangled body of Richard Dreyfus. Never a good sign. Anyway, there’s some this and that and the next thing we know Jake is on a boat with two ridiculously hot girls, Jerry O’Connell (what?) and a cameraman. They are kind of a “Girls Gone Wild” sort of set up and are out to film some action during party week. Jake is their “guide”, oh, and for unknown reasons Jake’s cute local crush is with them. There’s some champagnge, some body shots, some hot girls very nearly getting eaten, but not quite…

Whatever, when will someone get eaten?

Well, no sooner had I thought that very thing when a massive school of angry piranhas descend on the harbor of the town where all the teenagers are gyrating, getting crunk and you know, being kids and just go…nuts. Now, I love gore, I love blood, I love watching people being torn limb from limb and I have never seen this before – it is truly a thing of beauty to watch so many nearly naked bodies being destroyed, decimated. I would have been satisfied if this gloriously gruesome bloodbath went on for like ten to fifteen minutes. Oh no, hold on to your Sour Patch Kids, this shredding, beheading, bubbling fish-friendly buffet of blood goes on for like 45 minutes. I didn’t time it, it may have been longer. They’re in the water being eaten alive, they’re out of the water, oh noes the flotation device can hold their moronic weight back in the water, rawr, more eating! The highlight reel of all of this is the topless girls who’s on a parachute being pulled by a boat – she’s in the water, out of the water, giggling, wiggling, in the water, out of the water…no lower body and Eli Roth (as amusingly perverse wet t-shirt host) not getting each by piranhas, but getting his head smashed to goop by a boat.

What is most amazing about all of this is the sheer level to which Aja takes it. It’s not one or two or even twenty people being attacked, it’s dozens of people. Which means that’s dozens of people in and out of make up, having huge bloody piranha wounds applied, lots of people being coordinated in and out of the water. It’s really a feat in film making to make a gore scene of this size, realism and sheer ongoing momentum and power.

There’s also some action on the boat with the “porn crew”. Most of this “plot stuff” is pretty forgettable, and I’ll be honest not hugely important, the characters are amusing and likeable, but that’s about it. However, eventually after many many gulps of tequila Jerry O’Connell does end up in the water, while his lovely naked associate is just eaten to pulp, he gets hauled out of the water and his legs are basically bony, fleshy shadows of their previous selves…he goes on and on about how “they took my penis”. It’s the only time the piranhas are really address, accused or personified in this way which is really interesting and it’s also interesting because we actually get to see them eating the (digital) penis.

Piranha 3D is the exact kind of movie I love horror movies because of. I like the big scares and big effects. I like the gore and the excess. I think it’s interesting and important to look at these films for what they are, horror movies do not need to change the world, they need to entertain and to thrill. This movie does it’s job, it’s beautiful and fantastic. Aja truly has a wide skill range, able to skillfully handle complex, dynamic material as he does in Mirrors as well as something as campy and effervescent as Piranha 3D really speaks to a directors talent.

Though, I do not recommend this film if you had sushi for lunch…