Garishly and ghoulishly gory, John Gulager's hotly-anticipated sequel to last summer's hit horror comedy (Piranha 3D), is finally free of its bikini and bouncing at-ya on big screens and VOD tomorrow (Friday June 1).
First of all, when reviewing a movie called Piranha 3DD, one must ask: "With a title like this, what am I expecting?" I got what I expected! Bountiful boobies in three dimensions (lots of dripping wet bathing beauties jogging toward the camera in slo-mo), shamelessly bad celebrity cameos (Gary Busey's Ozzy-style bait-beheading is already legendary), and piranha gore galore (the fatal fishies are bigger, meaner and hungrier than ever).
Secondly, a well-worn and comfortable old shoe of a plot is de rigueur. No curveballs, please. Here, we can check off another box. In the story, Danielle Panabaker plays the straight-laced nay-sayer who just knows something is wrong at the water park, but nobody — especially not her step-father, the owner of said water park, who will stop at nothing to keep the biz open and the coffers flowing — will listen to her.
It's spring break, and the kids just wanna have fun. In spite of the warning signs as the toothy amphibians shimmy through the drains from the lake and into the town water sources, they are out to get baked, laid, wet, and wild. There is some attempt at character development, and some fare better than others — Meagan Tandy, Katrina Bowden and David Hasselhoff are standouts. (Christopher Lloyd and Ving Rhames are fun, but were over the top.)
There's kind of a story that's a throwback to the original Piranha movie (from the 70s, and directed by Joe Dante) while maintaining a continuation from the more recent summer hit (directed by Alexander Aja). The upgraded groupers are quite capable of the copious carnage which will ensue — creature designer Gary Tunicliffe designed and built over 150 of the models (though there is also a lot of CGI) in five different sizes and stages (embryos and infants, right up to the 4' mega piranha).
I really liked Piranha 3DD at first — in fact, an underwater attack scene taking place in a submerged van is one of the funnier, more inventive and downright white-knuckle (or wrist, as the cast may be for the sexual adventurer who's bound by a handcuff inside as the piranhas attack) scenes in recent memory. But when the movie falls flat — and it does, especially in an unfunny and nauseating love scene involving a piranha hiding inside a hoo-ha — it's a drag. What's more, it doesn't have the innocent charm of the 70s animal attack films, and doesn't really feel like a love letter to them, either. There are moments when the straightforward, by-the-numbers cynicism is painfully apparent. It really doesn't feel as though anyone loved making this movie, or being in it.
Fortunately, for the giant clusterf*ck finale Gulager brilliantly pulls no punches and the spectacle is indeed spectacular. So while the flick doesn't really work as the whole kettle of fish, if you go in looking for some gross-out fun and buckets of blood then you shouldn't be disappointed. Just remember: it's called Piranha 3DD.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Don't miss our exclusive article:
and... Stay tuned for our short video interview with the director, and stars Danielle Panabaker and David Koechner.