I remember watching MTV years ago and thinking, “It’d be nice if everyone on MTV’s Spring Break died in a fire. A horrible, painful fire. That would bring me a moment of fleeting joy.”
Well, Piranha doesn’t break any new ground in horror movies, but I do get to see my MTV Death Wish played out with prehistoric fish instead of fire. Hundreds of douche bags, both male and female, get their skin ripped from their bodies in a giant orgy of blood. A good horror movie sets up despicable characters in the first half that you really want to see die in the second half. A great horror movie makes you actually care about these characters.
Piranha is just a good movie, but that’s okay. It sets up a promise and delivers. There’s a healthy 1980’s level of blood and gore and a surprising amount of nudity for a 2010 film. Heck, the film stops dead for three minutes while two porn stars frolic full frontal in underwater close-ups.
Oh, and in 3-D.
This is my first 3-D film of the new modern 3-D movement. It didn’t work so well for me before and only barely worked this time. I have to hold my head a certain way, the glasses a certain way and still, the effect was mild with some blind spots. Oh well, Shells said she liked the 3-D effects. I don’t think I ever need to see a 3-D movie ever again.
Back to the movie, in a strange way, I think Piranha may be an odd beneficiary of new feminism. That is, women can and do and be anything they want without shame or judgement. So, because the movie’s main bad-ass is Oscar nominated Elizabeth Shue (every time she appeared on screen, I thought ‘Oscar nominated’), they can throw lots of anonymous T & A at the screen and be ironic or whatever. In fact, two of the other main female leads were honest-to-goodness porn stars (not that I’d know that). They were fine in the film and the focus of a lot of 3-D. Also, the main douche bag was Jerry O’Connell as a one of those ‘Girls Gone Wild’ scuzz bag producers. He spends most of the movie trying to get under age girls to show their ‘Tit-tays.’ His word, and as much as the movie would like to bring that word back, it ain’t gonna happen. Yea, he dies a horrible death. Twice. So, the porn producer is punished and that’s, maybe an ironic feminist revenge?
Oh in the press, O’ Connell said we would see his full-frontal in the movie. All I can say is, that was a cheat, a half-lie. Sorry ladies.
The picture’s two big set pieces play out predictably, but offer up many visceral thrills and were satisfying. Director Aja’s a good horror director (The Hills Have Eyes remake and the awesome High Tension which really did put the women front and center) and was very obviously going for over-the-top blood farce instead of a Jaws-like tension. He succeeds with some nice touches like Christopher Lloyds’ hammy performance, the real gore effects, nice cinematography (all of his movies have a dusty, bright desert feel), a few homages to the past, off-beat casting, and decent CG fish. The bad: the boring teenage boy lead and his girlfriend. Needed to care about him, but he was a moron.
All horror movies are lessons in what not to do. Here’s what I learned:
Always listen to your mom, especially if she’s Oscar nominated.
Little kids will always wander away, no matter how heavily bribed.
Cut your hair, it could get caught in a boat motor.
Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
And when being attacked by hundreds a prehistoric piranha, like don’t panic or be a dick getting away.
Orderly lines, people.
Or YOU WILL DIE.
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