Let’s not beat around the bush – Piranha is not a good movie. It contains nothing of artistic merit, acting primarily as a showcase for bouncing boobs, terminally dull teens and grizzly gore. There’s also some unforgivably horrendous CGI. What Piranha does take a stab at, however, is the one ingredient that many modern horrors overlook – unapologetic fun.
Some terror flicks get their impetus from cleverly crafted chills (Insidious, The Exorcist). Others revel in gleefuly campery (Eight-Legged Freaks, Slither), and offer drinking game good times as a consequence. This fishy floater has clearly opted for the latter option, embracing cheesiness in the name of gloriously daft entertainment. It’s almost admirable how shamelessly the flick cleaves to that mission statement, often sinking to ridiculous depths in search of cheap thrills.
Which can surely be the only explanation for scenes like Kelly Brooks’ naked, operatic swim about, or the inclusion of Jerry O’Connell’s headache-inducingly OTT cowboy porn producer. One dreads to think what sort of emotional scars those two alone inflicted on 3D-watching cinemagoers; that added dimension surely resulted in an experience akin to a slap in the face with a wet fish.
Rampant daftness aside, Piranha does have a handful of okay qualities. Christopher Lloyd brightens things up around the 40 minute mark, entering as a fish expert who – like Doc Brown – is consistently dialled up to 11. Meanwhile, there’s absolutely no skimping on the gore, and the piranha design is scabbily, spikily effective (even if the horrible CG makes them look like computer game afterthoughts).
Still, the sheer volume of arse-lingering, breast-caressing shots would put even the smuttiest of ‘80s slashers to shame, and will have most viewers up in arms (even if O’Connell’s anatomy is treated with similar crass abandon). Never been to a wet T-shirt contest? Piranha shoves those sopping shirts and crevice-cleaving thongs right in your face, over and over again. Teenage boys will be delighted. Everybody else will grab a copy of Germaine Greer’s latest novel and angrily re-read it.
With a sequel already in the pipeline, it’s clear that somebody enjoyed this first round of razor-fanged ludicrousness. But considering that follow-up is entitled Piranha 3DD (a telling indication of where the franchise’s priorities really lie), it’s hard to imagine a second nosh-fest can make up for this irredeemably rotten mess. 2/5