The unexpected success of Piranha 3D [M] (2010) naturally mandated a sequel, but in spite of a clever title and a lurid trailer packed with a heavy dose of blazing carny colours and female mammaries, Piranha 3DD is utterly flat.
This time the toothy fish are unleashed when a shady theme park developer drills a deep well for cheap water, and unknowingly sends the spawn into the lake system through the wastewater spout. Like the 1978 original and 2010 remake, the main action sequences occur in the water park, but in John Gulager’s film they lack the bombastic gore and outrageous caricatures of Alexandre Aja’s 2010 film.
Pretty Maddy (pouty Danielle Panabaker) juggles an idiot stepfather (David Koechner), a corrupt ex-boyfriend (Chris Zylka), and a closet admirer (Matt Bush) while trying to find the fish’s point of entry. The film’s trio of screenwriters don’t bother replicating character archetypes from the 2010 film, but lacking any amusing clichés, the story is just a loose series of scenes where characters run between locations, and the narrative is goosed with sporadic (and surprisingly tame) kill vignettes.
Penises are bitten, wombs are infiltrated, and faces are mulched, but Gulager’s sense of humour - which made the gory, vulgar Feast (2005) such a guilty pleasure – never goes beyond the frat-boy realm, so unless a fish assault involves private parts, interrupts copulation or jiggling bodies, there’s no gore sequence.
Gulager’s approach is to satirize a satire of a satire (the ’78 Piranha was a satire of Jaws, after all), but it just doesn’t work. There’s little story to propel the film, and Gulager repeatedly cuts to bare breast and tight ass montages with such frequency, they actually lose their impact – which is the last thing that ought to happen in an exploitation film. (Without End Credits, the breast-padded film runs close to 75 mins, and perhaps another telling sign of production problems is the film’s original release date, which shifted from summer to fall 2011 before 3DD was given a quick theatrical release in May-June 2012.)
3DD has a promising first third, but like the banal My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009), neither gore nor bare bodkins can save a terrible script. A weathered Gary Busey has a small cameo at the beginning with a flatulating bovine cadaver, Christopher Lloyd and Vin Rhames look bored reprising their roles from the 2010 film, and there’s the novelty of David Hasselhoff playing himself, but the writers and director seemed to feel just having the veteran actors in a scene should have enlivened uninteresting material. Not so.
Composer Elia Cmiral’s time and talent’s were wasted in this triple-derivative sequel, and the quality of the cinematography is very varied. Daytime shots look nice and crisp in HD, but fast movements (like following waterslide riders to the pool area) have digital artifacts typical of a bad, pixellating video file. Some of the underwater footage also suffers from a stuttering effect – perhaps due to using cheaper HD consumer gear – and there’s a nighttime shot inside a bedroom where the greys are botchy due to heavy digital compression. Whether the HD master was rushed for the Canadian Alliance Blu-ray release or a test master was used by accident, these are unacceptable flaws.
The disc’s extras include a self-deprecating filmmaker commentary track, assorted featurettes, and deleted scenes of a minor character featuring more vulgar talk and his humping a waterspout in front of a befuddled kid. There’s also “A Lesson with John McEnroe,” billed as a “Dimension Short Film” where a bespectacled spaz starts to beat McEnroe on the tennis court. It’s relevance to 3DD is rather murky, but then so is the film’s quality.
© 2012 Mark R. Hasan