Piranha 3D

We’ve had a little (or a lot) of everything during this summer of movies. There were a slew of action/adventure movies, comedies, family films, science fiction, independents and even some foreign films. The only genre that has been noticeably absent all summer long is the horror movie. That is no longer the case as “Piranha 3D” has hit theaters all over South Florida.

This new movie could be considered a re-imagining of the original, a reboot of the film franchise or it can even be looked at as a sequel as the last film was “Piranha II: The Spawning” (directed by James Cameron). This movie IS called Piranha THREE-D; hence you can say it is part 3 of the franchise. The movie can be criticized from a technical point of view or as a new entry into the horror genre.

Viewing this movie strictly from a technical standpoint I feel it has many flaws, starting with character development. There is an impressive cast here, not one filled with unknowns (more typical for a horror movie). Oscar nominated actress Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Jerry O’Connell, Christopher Lloyd and Oscar winning actor Richard Dreyfuss all are present in this movie, yet we don’t end up caring about any of them. Let them all get eaten! One character is introduced and disappears completely from the movie without explanation, a major crime in the world of movies.

On the other hand, not many people go to a horror movie looking for deep, three-dimensional characters (pun intended). In fact, the horror movies is one genre where it is not expected. The general rule is, “set ‘em up and knock ‘em down!” Horror fans just want to get scared by feeling the tension built right before a kill scene. The hard core fans of horror are looking for plenty of blood and gore. The latter is one thing “Piranha 3D” delivers in spades.

The movie starts pretty quickly as an earthquake takes place by an Arizona lake causing a large chasm to open. The Chasm leads to an underground lake which happens to be the home of thousands of prehistoric piranhas, long thought to be extinct. The killer fish are set loose just in time for Spring Break. When Sheriff Forester (Shue) discovers this, she tries to prevent a massacre from occurring by stopping the thousands of college kids from partying on the lake. Any guesses on whether or not she succeeds?

Horror fans are in for a treat because these carnivorous fish brought their appetites with them. We are treated with an attack scene right away and the bodies that are discovered are a gruesome sight to behold. When the big attack scene finally occurs all hell truly does let loose. Fans of gore are going to get more than their fill. Greg Nicotero and his KNB effects team really work overtime on this one. Not only are we treated to seeing these fish rip off the flesh of many unsuspecting swimmers, but the great panic they cause leads to some great, memorable accidental deaths during the melee. To reveal any of them here would be a crime, but some of them will be talked about for a long time.

Those who expect a nudity factor in their horror movies will also be satisfied. The most notable is a sequence that takes place under a glass boat executed to Léo Delibes’

Flower Duet” from the opera Lakme. You can even go as far as calling it artistic and exploitive at the same time. Both sexes are represented as there is even some male nudity to this movie too. The film features many light moments and director Alexandre Aja even manages to work in some commentary raising the question of who are the real piranhas, us or the fish?

Another reason why this movie resonates so well with horror audiences is that it taps into a very real fear we all have, even though we never think of it: what is the worse way to die? Someone may answer how they would hate to develop some form of cancer; but, ask them how they feel about being eaten alive and they will probably change their answer. Try to imagine if you are in the woods and a wild animal attackes you. Maybe it rips off your arm with its mouth or worse, dives teeth first into your mid-section and rips out your entrails while you are still alive to witness the frenzy. Switch to the ocean, can you picture being eaten by a shark? (By the way, there are some great inside jokes in this movie for fans of the movie “Jaws”). Those large teeth, sharp as knives, penetrating your body again and again, your bones crunching too, as the giant fish chews you up. Here, in this movie, it would be hundreds of smaller fish tearing away at you bit by bit. Thankfully we are safely watching this fictional piece of art from our seats in the theater with the psychological theme always being present.

There has already been word that a sequel is in the works, which shows audiences are ready for some movies that can involved some creatures from the deep. Perhaps this will grease the wheels with some money men in Hollywood and Steve Alten’s excellent novel, “Meg” may finally make its way to the big screen in a coming summer movie season. In the meantime, make your way to see this fun ride in 3D, which is very well worth the extra money to view it.  You will not be disappointed. It is rated R for strong horror and gory violence, language and nudity.