“Let’s take off all our clothes and go swimming.” If this were any other dead teenager movie, that quote would probably be a facetious attempt on my part to demonstrate overused and unconvincing plot conventions. But in the case of Piranha 3DD, that’s an actual line of dialogue. Perhaps it’s a good thing that it’s not only aware of horror movie clichés but actually wants to rub them in our faces until we pass out from the smell. We know that this is a bad movie, and the filmmakers know that we know and beat us at our own game. Having said that, there does come a point at which self-awareness devolves into a very unflattering form of monomania. And if you’re not careful, it will eventually mutate into sickening self indulgence. If you need proof, here’s another line, one that’s sure to kick start your imaginations: “He cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina!”
The film is, of course, a sequel to 2010’s Piranha 3D, a remake of Joe Dante’s 1978 film. That movie merely went over the top. Piranha 3DD goes over, around, and through, like an alcoholic on a self-destructive bender towards blessed oblivion. Watching it, I honestly didn’t know whether to admire its shamelessness or curse the day it was conceived of. Mindless trash is one thing. But when you include a scene in which sex is interrupted because a piranha hatches in the woman’s body, swims out her vagina, and clamps its jaws onto the man’s genitals, spraying the bed and the walls with blood, well, that might be taking things one step too far. Its status as pure, unadulterated exploitation is underlined by the title, which is not 3-D-D but 3-Double-D. If you don’t get the reference, then quite frankly, you don’t deserve to have it explained to you.
It has been a year since the events of the first film, during which a species of prehistoric piranha thought to be extinct broke free from an underwater cave, swam en masse to the shores of Lake Victoria, and savagely dined on the horny teenagers celebrating Spring Break. The once thriving community was thrown into economic ruin and became a ghost town. The voiceover narration of a news reporter wonders if such a thing could ever happen again. And so it comes to pass that, at a lake somewhere in the middle of Arizona, two rednecks played by Gary Busy and Clu Gulager meet their untimely ends when their prize heifer, which floats lifelessly in the water, farts out a series of piranha eggs that immediately hatch. Cut to a television ad for a nearby water park, which will open in two days with promises of hot young women and a lot of double entendres consisting of the word “wet.”
The park is 51% owned by an unscrupulous and perverted showman named Chet (David Koechner). The remaining 49% is owned by his stepdaughter, Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), who has just returned home after studying marine biology in college. Needless to say, they don’t see eye to eye on Chet’s decision to replace genuine lifeguards with big-breasted strippers and corner off a section of the park for nude swimming. She reunites with her junior high pal, the mousy but decent Barry (Matt Bush), and her ex-boyfriend, a corrupt and arrogant deputy cop named Kyle (Chris Zylka). As they compete for Maddy’s affections, we cut to several scenes where one-dimensional teenage typecasts get devoured by the newly spawned piranha. Two of them are in a van about to have sex – although they must pray first, as they are about to commit a sin. One of them releases the parking break, allowing the van to roll into the lake. You can take it from there.
These recent deaths catch Maddy’s attention, leading her, Barry, and Kyle to seek out the eccentric piranha expert Mr. Goodman (Christopher Lloyd). He informs them, as only he can, that this particular species of piranha probably traveled from Lake Victoria via several underground lakes, that they can bite their way through corrugated steel, and that they could conceivably travel through pipes, as chlorinated water is somehow or another similar to the water they originated from. With horror, Maddy realizes that the water park drains directly into the neighboring lake. She tries to warn Chet, who opens the park anyway. It isn’t long before a school of piranhas do in fact swim up a pipe to the water park, bite their way through a pool grate, and do what they do best – including decapitating a boy no older than ten.
Did I forget to mention that this movie is in 3D? Director John Gulager (Clu’s son) takes no half measures in ensuring that the audience is aware of it; in the course of this film, we will see a bloody stump of an arm, spikes of coral, a trident, and jiggling slow-motion breasts assaulting our field of vision, along with several snapping piranhas. Did I also forget to mention the special guest appearances by Ving Rhames and David Hasselhoff? The former plays the same character he played in the previous film, minus his legs. He is, however, fitted with prosthetics, one doubling as a shotgun. The latter plays a parody of himself, begging the question of whether he accepted this job for fun or out of desperation. Piranha 3DD is what it is, but unlike its predecessor, that isn’t a sign that it succeeded. Having said that, you might have fun during the end credits, at which point we’re shown nearly ten minutes worth of outtakes.
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The Weinstein Co.