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Piranha 3DD (A Movie Review

PIRANHA 3DD (2012)

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, Katrina Bowden, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames, Chris Zylka, Allison Mack, Gary Busey, David Koechner, David Hasselhoff, Jean-Luc Bilodeu, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, Meagan Tandy, Adrian Martinez, Paul Scheer and Clu Gulager.

Screenplay by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soissan.

Directed by John Gulager.

Distributed by Dimension Films. 82 minutes. Rated R.

You know pretty much all you need to know about Piranha 3DD from the title. If that is a little too subtle for you (as if!) there is the tag line: "Double the action. Double the terror. DOUBLE THE D'S."

Subtlety is not in this movie's bag of tricks. So, while 3DD sounds like a freakishly off-base bra size (unless the girls are the size of a Barbie doll), the people who are interested in seeing the sequel to Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D – which itself was an update of a seventies cheapie horror flick – probably won't care. They might not even know. (In general, guys who are getting enough breasts in the real world would not have to rent a title like this.) The makers of Piranha 3DD can pat themselves on the back for a clever variation to calling the movie Piranha 3D 2. Well, actually, not really that clever.

But, again, cleverness is not a concern for Piranha 3DD. Piranha 3D was an oddball mix of extreme violence, extreme T&A and subversive humor that never quite gelled into anything other than exploitative silliness. It was like a shotgun marriage of Jaws and Jersey Shore. It was an odd fit – much too violent to really be funny and much too goofy to be taken seriously as horror.

Piranha 3DD wants to ramp up the violence and the T&A – and it does, somewhat – but mostly it just ramps up the extreme silliness. Without original director Aja on board the guy is disturbingly violent, but he does have some real skills as a director and a strong visual style Piranha 3DD also ramps up the cheesy generic nature of the story. For a similar example, check out Aja's gonzo-sadistic remake of The Hills Have Eyes and then the defanged Aja-less attempt at a similar style in The Hills Have Eyes 2. Aja is too dementedly bloodthirsty to take seriously as a director, but you have to admit the guy has mad skills as a filmmaker.

Instead, Piranha 3DD is in the hands of character actor-turned-journeyman exploitation filmmaker John Gulager (Feast 1-3). His slick straight-to-video directing style (though this is a theatrical release) is much more languid and much less harrowing.

Therefore, despite the fact that 3DD has a much better leads (Danielle Panabaker of Shark and Matt Bush of Glory Daze) and a pretty funny self-effacing cameo by David Hasselhoff (yet again playing himself), the sequel is significantly less stylish or memorable.

Even the extreme gore is less believable. In the first one, you didn't really believe that a whipping metal cable would slice two women in half, but at least is seemed slightly plausible. In 3DD you have to stifle a derisive laugh when a man is decapitated by driving a golf cart through a line of decorative flags.

Piranha 3DD does have some real scares, lots of fake blood (if you're into that) and a decent amount of gratuitous nudity. That's really all that its targeted audience expects, so on that level, mission accomplished, I suppose. However, while I didn't particularly like Piranha 3D, at least I admired the craft with which it was made. I can't really say the same for the sequel.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: August 26, 2012.


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