(I originally wrote this review when I saw Piranha 3D at the cinema. After waking from my coma I totally forgot about it, much like the film itself. Anyway, in the absence of a new article this week here are my thoughts on Alex Aja’s Piranha 3D from the heady days of 2010. In short: it wasn’t very good, but don’t worry, at least Takers is out next week!)


Piranha 3D: a film about killer fish and tits that’s more gory than a heroic bloodshed retelling of The Passion of The Christ, and contains more severed man members than you might expect find in Michael Barrymore’s pool filter – if you believe everything you read in the News of the World, natch.

If you were such a purveyor of quality journalism then you may be wondering what more there could be, beyond gore, tits and fish – not just in the film, perhaps even in real life. And while you could be accused of having criminally low standards, you wouldn’t exactly be wrong.

But is it wrong to expect internal logic and character development from something that prides itself on showing little more than fish and tits in 3D? The part of my brain that tries to get me to acknowledge the existence of Chris Moyles would say ‘probably’ (if it understood the question), but I disagree.

The original Piranha was from the Roger Corman school of filmmaking. While the quality of some of Rog’s directorial output could be questioned, at least from a traditional critical viewpoint (though I remain convinced time will reveal the true genius of She Gods of Shark Reef) his ability to spot talent remains without equal. Corman’s movies were where the aspiring A-list could cut their teeth working on B-level productions. So while you could expect little of these productions beyond a snappy title and often hilariously misleading poster, you’d often be pleasantly surprised with some of the artistry on display. And these directors would be justly rewarded with careers making better films with bigger budgets.

Unfortunately those times seem to be over; the best today’s director can expect is to get hired by a studio to remake the B movies of yesteryear or turn a boardgame/cartoon/cracker joke into a filmic franchise. So while people bemoan the absence of another Coppola or Scorsese they fail to realise that he might be out there right now, making Yogi Bear in 3D, hoping to earn enough juice to remake Slugs for Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, before inevitably descending into a creative abyss fuelled by self-loathing and friendship with Brett Ratner.

Alexandre Aja’s career seems to revolve around making well-directed horror films with a nod to whatever’s popular at the time. So Switchblade Romance, a taut efficient slasher for the most part, ends with a ridiculous trope from the 90s cinema that, thankfully, seems to have been banished to the M Night Shymalan landfill of bad ideas. The Hills Have Eyes was one of the better horror remakes, but a remake all the same. I didn’t see Mirrors but as it was made in 2008 I’m going to assume it featured Kiefer Sutherland going mental after his iPhone 3G wouldn’t stop playing Leona Lewis. Or something.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say that perhaps the only way to survive when you have a degree of intelligence but keep getting fed scripts like Yahtzee 3D, or whatever’s supposedly hot at the moment, is to embrace the ridiculousness of it. In which case a lack of the key components that normally gauge a film’s quality: character development, plot and narrative logic, become the film’s strengths. That would explain the appearance of Oscar winners Elisabeth Shue, and Richard Dreyfuss and, to a lesser-extent, Oscar watcher, Jerry O’Connell. I suppose it’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes, but the emperor knows he doesn’t have any clothes, and everyone else knows it too, but it’s OK because they don’t have any clothes either, and nobody cares because there are tits and cock-eating fish everywhere…in 3D!!!

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