June 9, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 48°F


‘Piranha’ remake gnaws original film

Blood, beer and naked girls are what Alexandre Aja had in mind for his remake of the 1978 creature flick “Piranha.” The film is exactly what it was meant to be — a disgusting, B-grade party horror flick. It is the ultimate cheesy 3-D bloodbath. With naked girls making out underwater and more guts than a slasher fan could ask for, how could it wrong?

After a fisherman (Richard Dreyfuss) drops a beer bottle to the bottom of Lake Victoria and causes an earthquake, a passage opens beneath the lake that had been blocked off for millions of years. Vicious piranhas that had been surviving solely on cannibalism invade Lake Victoria as thousands of college kids party for spring break. Hoards of these flesh-hungry fish swarm the oblivious spring breakers, causing an epic battle (and one major buzz kill) of man vs. fish. As most know by the preview and original film, the winner is obvious.

Aja is used to directing actors covered in guts from his 2003 film “High Tension” and his 2006 remake of Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes.”  From the success of both these movies, Aja has made a name for himself in the horror remake business. While the story line lacks substance, the entertaining cast brought “Piranha” to life.

Jerry O’Connell plays a hilarious  “Girls Gone Wild” director parading around in a Speedo with shot glass in hand. He brings to screen a sarcastic attitude and rock star persona that makes up for the lack of plot. If another actor had played the smooth talking director, it would not have been as fantastic (or humorous) as O’Connell’s performance.

Compared to the original 1978 “Piranha,” directed by Joe Dante, the remake is much more over the top. The main concept remains the same — flesh-eating fish are released. But instead of an earthquake, the original offers a possibly more believable explanation. Rather than keep the fish “mysterious,” writers Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg (Sorority Row) clearly take a different approach with the new film. The pirhanas are center stage in CGI, chomping their jaws at the audience in Real 3-D.

Having the film only released in 3-D takes full advantage of what is thrown at the audience: blood, fish and boobs. Putting to use those old-school 3-D tricks, Aja is fully aware of his audience. Following “My Bloody Valentine” (2009) and “The Final Destination,” (2009) “Piranha” is definitely the best recent 3-D horror film. The audience will have just enough things thrown at it without the unrealistic CGI that “The Final Destination” employs. “My Bloody Valentine” was a stereotypical slasher film that wasn’t meant to be funny. “Piranha,” on the other hand, was never intended to be a terrifying film ­— and that is why the 3-D works so well. “Piranha” would still be an OK movie in 2-D, but it’s the little gimmicks and 3-D tricks that make it excellent.

“Piranha” will certainly not be nominated for any Academy Awards this year. However, it is a whole lot of fun. “Piranha” is a campy, blood-soaked horror flick, and it doesn’t attempt to be anything else. It’s “Saw” meets “Jaws” meets  rap music video to create a 3-D masterpiece.

“Piranha 3D” was written by Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger, Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur and John Sayles and directed by Alexandra Aja.