Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

PIRANHA (2010)

PIRANHA (aka Piranha 3D/2010). Director: Alexandre Aja.

An undersea quake unleashes a horde of hungry prehistoric piranha who proceed to snack on and cause carnage among young people on spring break. Don't be fooled into thinking this remake of the 1970's Piranha is a horror film or monster movie as it's really directed at the kinds of people who seek out snuff films, true-life accident footage, and documentaries like Faces of Death [even if the film's gore isn't real]. You'd expect a movie about carnivorous fish attacking people to have some creative bloodiness and shock effects, but Piranha goes so over the top that it's simply too graphic and stomach-churning to be fun or remotely entertaining. It's not merely a mindless "frat boy" movie made for and by morons, but a monster movie filtered through a Columbine sensibility. While men are killed off in the film, the most excruciatingly horrible deaths are reserved for women, giving the film a misogynous tone that critics, even female ones, didn't seem to pick up on. Why an Oscar-nominee like Elisabeth Shue is starring in crap like this is anybody's guess, but she'd be better off doing a TV series [which co-star Jerry O'Connell did] than make movies like this. [What's next? Starring in the sequel for the Syfy channel?] The acting isn't bad, and the monsters are very well-designed, but director Aja [who should probably be known as Alexandre A--wipe] should have spent more time crafting suspense scenes and less on the vomitous, "lovingly"-detailed carnage [To be fair, the climax is somewhat suspenseful, but Aja is no Hitchcock]. Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss of Jaws fame are also in this mess.

Some critics were soft on this movie because they were afraid of seeming un-hip, but come on -- movies like Piranha aren't hip -- they're beloved only by disaffected, misanthropic geeks who chuckle over a young lady getting pulled into an outboard motor out of their own self-hatred! Years ago movies like this were barely released for midnight showings by very minor production companies but Piranha was released by Dimension films -- in 3D no less -- with a massive advertising campaign. And this is progress? As one intelligent critic put it, Piranha doesn't seem to have been made for anyone -- human, that is.

Verdict: Atrocious and ugly beyond belief. 0 stars.

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