Piranha 3DD

| September 6, 2012

Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D managed to be one of the few remakes of recent years to stand on its own merits as a great new take on the original film’s premise, mostly by ditching everything but the basic concept of Joe Dante’s original film and applying it to a modern-day college spring break setting. Aja also kept the film’s comic but ruthless tone, staging a final-act piranha attack that applied the gruesomely explicit gore of Saving Private Ryan‘s opening sequence to a brightly-colored, sunny day that turns impressively bloody. The concept of a sequel seemed like a foregone conclusion, even if Piranha 3D didn’t quite hit “blockbuster” status; it was cheap enough that it made money anyway, so why not do it again?

Piranha 3DD takes place a year after the slaughter at Lake Victoria. That lake has been quarantined and the town has died along with all the life in the lake. A sleazy water park called “The Big Wet”– featuring an “adult pool” where swimmers can lounge around naked, and all the lifeguards are strippers– is opening in a nearby town. Chet (David Koechner), the park’s boorish owner, has decided to drill his own well to supply the park’s water. Too bad his well is an underwater lake connected to Lake Victoria, which means the ravenous man-eating piranha from the first film can swim their way directly into the park’s water supply.

The park’s only hope is Chet’s marine biology major stepdaughter Maddy (Danielle Panabaker) and her friend Barry (Matt Bush) and ex-boyfriend deputy Kyle (Chris Zylka). They learn that the piranha that terrorized Lake Victoria may be back after a couple of their friends disappear and a very unpleasant (and completely physically impossible) accident befalls their other friends Shelby (Katrina Bowden) and Josh (Jean-Luc Bilodeau). After consulting with Mr. Goodman (Christopher Lloyd, reprising his role from the first film), Maddy and her friends realize that opening day of The Big Wet is shaping up to be an all-you-can-eat buffet for the rapidly evolving piranha.

Unsurprisingly, Piranha 3DD lacks the first film’s strong characters and cast: in place of Elisabeth Shue and Adam Scott, we mostly have a standard-issue group of horror-movie teenagers. Also, pretty much all the time spent with characters is mostly traded in the sequel for slow-motion shots of large-breasted women running toward the camera. Written by hired guns Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (aka “the guys who wrote Saw 4-7“), Piranha 3DD hits some of the superficial notes that people enjoyed about the first film– bright colors, naked ladies, gore– but misses the characters that made Piranha 3D worth watching.

It also inexplicably brings in David Hasselhoff for an extended cameo playing himself, which is sort of fun (it’s great that Hasselhoff has a sense of humor about himself) but wears thin after a while. It’s telling that the film’s most outrageous joke (well, the most outrageous joke that doesn’t depend on a complete fundamental lack of knowledge of female human anatomy) is saved for the last seconds of the film; it’s perhaps even more telling that the joke is repeated several times under the start of the end credits, and the fact that the end credits drag on for well over ten minutes. It seems obvious that making Piranha 3DD was really, really fun. Unfortunately, watching the film isn’t nearly as enjoyable. It’s not as terrible as it could have been, but Piranha 3DD isn’t nearly as good as it should have been.

Anchor Bay Entertainment released Piranha 3DD on DVD and Blu-ray on 4 September 2012. Special features include a commentary track, deleted scenes, and four featurettes: “The Story Behind the DD,” “The Hofftastic World of David Hasselhoff,” “Busey’s Bloopers,” and “Wet and Wild with David Koechner.”

About the Author:

Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He is author of "The Unrepentant Cinephile," and a regular contributor to Daily Grindhouse and Film Monthly as well as a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He is co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society and proud owner of 35mm prints of Andy Milligan's "Guru, the Mad Monk." Follow his long-form film writing on Medium: www.medium.com/@rabbitroom

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