Alexandre Aja’s gonna have to work pretty hard from now on to impress this reviewer. After the brilliant double punch of High Tension (Haute Tension/Switchblade Romance) and The Hills Have Eyes, his work since then has been sorely lacking. He wrote and produced P2, which was entertaining if nothing special, and then did the special effects-heavy Mirrors, which may have had a nifty ending, but other than that was simply Kiefer Sutherland running around in ’24’ mode, screaming at his reflection.
Now he’s remade Piranha, a film that didn’t really need to be remade (do any?) but could have been a lot of fun. It’s not. Piranha is little more than T & A and gore.
The plot concerns a bunch of prehistoric piranha who are let loose into Victoria Lake, Arizona after an earthquake. Of course, this just happens to coincide with spring break, so it isn’t long before there are a bunch of drunk, bikini-clad college kids getting their flesh ripped into by thousands of the toothy fish.
The main problem with Piranha is that it isn’t as funny as it thinks it is. It doesn’t reach the heights of ridiculousness that it should to truly be entertaining. In fact, Chief Brody firing at a great white with a compressed air canister in its mouth was sillier than any of Piranha. All this film can offer is lots of (strangely un-sexy) boobs and evisceration.
As far as sea monster movies go, you can’t do much with a bunch of small fish. Its difficult to get a good performance out of a school, so the writing should rely on some excellent set pieces, some escalation of danger. Piranha has none of this. In fact, the film feels weirdly brief – piranhas appear, eat heaps of people, then the film ends. I didn’t even realise that I was watching the climax until the credits rolled.
This film wasn’t shot in 3D, and all hooplarians should know by now that this means it isn’t worth seeing in 3D. As often happens with Real D technology, the film is way too dark, particularly in the underwater scenes. A combination of low budget, crappy CGI and uninspired shot composition means that this film is not in the least bit flashy to look at.
Jerry O’Connell is particularly good at playing an arsehole, and at least Elisabeth Shue is convincing as the local sheriff. The rest of the cast aren’t doing their careers any favour.
Aja displays none of his previous directorial prowess here – something that could at least be spotted on occasions in Mirrors. Basically the only mildly entertaining aspects of Piranha are the couple of cameos, though it’s their participation rather than their performance that provokes a geeky grin.
Every single moment Piranha has a chance to get truly entertaining, it falls flat on its face. Go out and rent Deep Blue Sea or Lake Placid instead.Rating: