Alexandre Aja is pretty much screwed.
As one of my favorite directors the man has crafted some of the best horror/camp films in the past decade. High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D were all fantastically amazing flicks that could have been total crap if he was not directing. Thanks to him, however, the movies were smart while still being campy. He’s a master of walking the line between camp and idiocy and even better at delivering films that just work.
As such his films actually do well at the box office and thus are given a sequel that he’s never brought back for. Since his movies aren’t quite high brow the studios don’t usually see the need to bring someone back thinking anyone can handle some gore and camp or Aja doesn’t want to return. And so for every great flick that Aja directs a truly bad sequel crops up.
Welcome to Pirahna 3DD.
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Piranha 3DD basically takes Piranha 3D and revs it up about a hundred notches, but without any of the style of tongue-in-cheek feel that the first film had. Guy loses his penis to a piranha in the first film? Well this time the piranha comes out of a woman’s vagina he’s having sex with in order to get a guys penis. It’s so much more extreme and clever, right? Wrong. There’s a certain style to these things and once you go beyond that your boundary pushing becomes more idiotic than fun. Turning the volume to 11, figuratively speaking, is not the way to make a sequel better than the original.
It also doesn’t help that the movie churns out its gore really poorly with a piranha massacre scene that is so short and meaningless that you wonder why the film bothered to have the fish involved in it at all. Why not just have two hours of slow motion breasts and screaming girls if you’re not going to put too much effort into the gore people come to see? It’s even worse because the entire movie takes place in a water park and once the fish get in it should be a matter of minutes (and a few dead people) before everyone is out of the water. Instead the filmmakers, realizing they have written themselves into a corner, decide to basically have every person in the pool be a total idiot. To excuse this they eventually have David Hasselhoff (one of the few bright spots in the boring film) make a snide comment about it. That pulls a laugh until you realize there’s still 20 minutes of people not getting out of the pool after that. On top of this the final scenes are handled so poorly that you never feel the panic that the last movie delivered in its blood bath.
I’m not about to call the first (or fourth if you’re counting the originals and the first remake) film a masterpiece in story telling, but compared to Piranha 3DD it looks like a Russian novel. As I said before the piranha massacre at the end of the film is so short that the writers basically have people just jump back into the pool for absolutely no reason. Then because they’ve brought Ving Rhames in and need Hasselhoff to do something else than deliver one liners they have two pointless scenes for each respectively so poorly put together that it almost entirely invalidates the humor that the two guys bring to the film. Rhames has shotguns for legs and the movie can’t even make that scene work.
I had to keep on trying to force myself to sit back and enjoy the fun, but about halfway through I realized that wasn’t really any fun to be had. Director John Gulagar had sucked all the fun and cleverness out of the franchise. It’s painfully obvious that he thinks he’s being clever as well, which makes it all the worse. The screen actually screams desperation as the third slow-mo pair of breasts bounces by hopelessly begging to be laughed at because the movie is so hilarious in its self-awareness. The problem is that it isn’t. It doesn’t feel self-aware at all, it just feels dumb. Instead of reveling in its own fun, every scene just amps up the plea for us to laugh along with it. There’s no humor to be had here because the humor is being pointed out and beaten to death over and over.
Piranha 3DD is a shining example of a movie so bad that it’s awful. Truly enjoyable bad movies don’t go all out to be bad, they just are and that’s the fun in it. By routinely attempting to be so self-aware even the most jaded hipster would scoff and then trying to compensate for every flaw with a pair of breasts, horrible action or a celebrity cameo the movie utterly defeats itself. As a final nail int he coffin, even Gary Busey is wasted in the opening scene in a failed attempt to duplicate the fantastic cameo from Richard Dreyfuss. That might be the perfect example of how Piranha 3DD fails: it copies and pastes then repeats again until the joke is dead.