Film Reviews

"Piranha 3D" Review: Gore and Nakedness, Just Inches from Your Fish Food Face

An earthquake has opened an undersea chasm, unleashing a gazillion piranha fish near an Arizona resort town that just happens to be jammed with spring-break partiers anxious to frolic in the pretty blue lake. Horny horror-movie revelers tend to deserve what's coming to them, a sentiment French-born director Alexandre Aja embraces with maniacal glee in a third-act massacre that's downright ruthless (as was Aja's debut feature, High Tension, and his remake of The Hills Have Eyes).

The human prey get filleted in 3-D, no less, a technology that's deployed effectively—as when one piranha or another is plucked from the computer-animated horde and paraded past the moviegoer's nose—but also shamelessly, as when a naked woman points her breasts directly at the camera and shimmies. Irredeemable, and yet, the movie, written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, is too funny and the filmmaking too self-aware to be truly offensive.

Some wonder why the Oscar-nominated Elisabeth Shue agreed to star in such obvious trash, but maybe when she read the part in the script where the piranha deliver a riotously gruesome but poetically just comeuppance to the story's most egregiously misogynist, she laughed her way to saying, "Yes."

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.