Review: Piranha 3D

I viewed my first 3D movie a little while ago, and the second a couple days ago.

The first was Piranha 3D.

The first scenes made me a little nauseated because they are of hot Arizona landscapes and creaking metal signs against chain-link fences. In 3D, those look pretty Magic-Eye crappy. Then a whirlpool sucks an old man into the water and every predatory-animal horror-movie trope comes to life in a menacing, indulgent vignette that is popping out in this way that couldn’t possibly be trying to mimic life. And instantly I know that this is a 3D movie that pays homage to the first 3D movies and the first Piranha movies, but one that could not exist back then, so the campiness doesn’t bother me.

I am not distracted by worry about this man’s importance to the plot because he was drinking beer by himself, and of course he had to die. I don’t mind that the fish are fake looking because what do piranhas look like anyway? Like clouds of blood vanishing into boiling water.

And the font appears, reassuring. It is kitschy and crazily 3D. And that man is gone forever. But his body parts float, and I am reassured again. This is the future, and no corpses get dragged behind mountains or buried under the monsters’ habitats. This movie is so seriously good at gore. It’s–okay, yes–the best gore I’ve ever seen on a big screen, both because of and despite its 3D-ness.

Christopher Lloyd is in this movie. He has a tiny role, and he just exclaims things like, This fish hasn’t been seen in two million years! and, The genitalia isn’t fully developed! after a few seconds of inspection.

Lake Victoria is a fictional lake in Arizona, and P3D was filmed somewhere here in our gloriously cheap state, but I don’t remember where. My friend, an old stagehand with lots of film experience, worked on it and said it used the most fake blood he’d ever seen in any one place. Barrels upon barrels. At one point Spring Break is ruined and the floating stage starts to sink and maybe that’s the scariest part, because in the audience, we’re not really scared of fish jumping out at us, but when big structures start breaking, they fly forward and hit close. There is no reason at all to see this movie in anything but 3D. There are scenes of gratuitous nudity that are dependent on the film’s medium. They are awesome.

The theme of sex and drugs and Spring Break give this movie an unexpected layer of weird morality that is established and slashed apart several times. So, actually, you don’t know who will die and who will live, and that notion kind of creeps up on you a couple times. Or maybe it doesn’t now that I’ve told you it does.

Warning: I can’t imagine bringing a kid or even an adolescent to this movie. Not only is the gore and death count horrifying, and not only are piranhas insanely scary just because of what they are. (Spoiler alert:) There are girls underwater naked and making out for way longer than anyone could hold their breath, cocaine, alcohol, some porn star parasailing topless, a way too CGIed detached penis, and a Joe Francis-type documentarian filming all of it.

Talking point: Which poster is better, new French or old American?

-N. Stagg

One thought on “Review: Piranha 3D

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