Piranha 3DD (Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by John Gulager
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
After following up the fantastic High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes remake with the dreadful P2 and Mirrors, Alexandre Aja surprised fans by giving us Piranha 3D, a silly, breasts ‘n blood-filled bit of exploitation that was not only the exact opposite of his typical, more serious-minded fare, but was also an utter blast, full of naughty humor and jaw-droppingly violent setpieces. As that movie was a success, a sequel was, of course, inescapable. And now, after a brief fling with VOD and a limited theatrical release, Feast director John Gulager’s follow-up Piranha 3DD has hit Blu-ray for all to finally see.
And yikes, is it terrible.
3DD opens with Maddy (Panabaker), a young marine biology student who returns home to her family’s water park, only to discover that her sleazy stepfather Chet (Koechner) has turned it into “Big Wet”, an adult theme park with stripper life guards and an “adults only” swimming area. Unbeknownst to others, Chet has been illegally filling his park with water from a nearby lake. A lake which may or may not be infested with the pissed off super-piranha from the previous film (spoiler – it’s totally infested with the pissed off super-piranha from the previous film).
You can see where this is going. Adult water park + piranha = a rehash of Piranha 3D’s climactic, nudity-and-gore-filled spring break bloodbath (albeit on a more contained, less enjoyable scale).
Along the way to the piranha’s inevitable booby buffet, we are treated to a few useless cameos (Doc Brown, Baywatch, Mr. Joshua, and Marcellus Wallace doing his best Cherry Darling impression); piranha that can leap several yards out of a lake, but not three inches out of an aquarium (to say nothing of the devil-fish being unable to shatter said aquarium’s glass even though it can punch through friggin’ steel); a town that seemingly has only one on-duty cop (and a crooked one at that); characters who discover the same type of piranha responsible for a national tragedy, only to investigate further before, y’know, alerting the authorities; and some of the dodgiest damned CG you’ll see in a studio release outside of 1992.
Dropping all of the previous film’s fun in favor of upping the gore and nudity, Piranha 3DD is a seventy-minute mess of a film (padded out to eighty-two minutes with an unending set of terribly unfunny bloopers), chock full of cardboard-thin characters, bad dialogue, and an unhealthy dose of sleaze. 3DD is nothing more than a series of setpieces strung together haphazardly, unable to congeal into anything even remotely resembling a plot. I wasn’t demanding much from a movie called Piranha 3DD, dammit, but is it too much to ask for the filmmakers to at least attempt to tell a story while piling on the girls and grue?
Writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan put in career-nadir work here, as 3DD is easily their worst script to date (yes, worse than Saw 3D, somehow). Director Gulager seems to be getting worse with each subsequent film, crafting a movie with no pace and numerous continuity gaffes. While his first film, Feast, was a great deal of fun, full of outrageous action and wicked humor, the Feast sequels and 3DD seem concerned only with juvenile attempts at comedy and bloodshed. I wish the man the best, but I fear how terrible his next film might be.
This is all a pity, as the assembled cast is actually quite decent (though none are able to overcome the script or direction). Panabaker and Bowden are fast becoming genre vets, and put in solid work along with Bush, Zylka, and Koechner. Christopher Lloyd and Gary Busey have fun with their cameos (though Ving Rhames looks miserable), while Hasselhoff’s extended “special appearance” is mostly misjudged and quite unfunny (with the exception of one truly hilarious sequence that riffs on Jaws).
The image and sound are both top notch on Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray, which is a bit of a mixed blessing. Sure, the disc has a razor-sharp image, but that only serves to underline just how cheap the film looks. The audio is crystal-clear, though the sound design is less than stellar. Still, if you’re determined to watch the film (and if you have the tech), you’ll want to go ahead and check out the film in 3D.
A quick glance at the bonus features could lead one to believe that the disc is stacked with extras, but sadly there’s little to be found here. The deleted scenes section is really just a two-and-a-half minute collection of extra moments featuring the loathsome “Big Dave” character. “The Story Behind the DD” is as depth-free as the film itself, with a few talking heads and some behind-the-scenes intercut with the film’s trailer adding up to seven-and-a-half minutes of your life you’ll never get back. “The Hofftastic World of David Hasselhoff” has the washed-up celebrity overestimating his cult appeal for about two minutes, while “Busey’s Bloopers” is less a collection of on-set flubs and more just a mean-spirited airing of a brain-damaged man’s borderline-incoherent rambling. This was meant to be amusing, guys? Not cool.
“Wet and Wild with David Koechner” features the usually hilarious actor speaking behind the scenes and generally looking embarrassed at being a part of the film. Wrapping up the bonus features is “A Lesson with John McEnroe”, a short film featuring the hotheaded tennis pro being an asshole to his equally assholish new student. It’s brief, only faintly amusing, and has fuck-all to do with Piranha 3DD. It’s also the best thing on the disc.
Look, I really am a fan of fun, silly, wild exploitation flicks. But dammit, the Kevin Smith/Cop Out defense doesn’t work if the movie in question fails to entertain on any level. A “fun” movie has to actually be fun, otherwise what’s the point? Piranha 3DD isn’t scary, it isn’t funny, it isn’t sexy, it isn’t entertaining, and it isn’t worth your damn time.
1 out of 5
1 out of 5