If anything, horror movies like Piranha 3D teach us that college spring breakers must be severely punished for their hedonism. How else will they learn the hard lessons of life, except for being torn to shreds in a semi-campy bloody mess?
The B-movie story is really not what you are paying for when you go to see this but here’s the rundown anyway. A tremor at a popular spring break lake destination in the southwest opens up an underwater cavern where prehistoric Piranha have been living. Then the fish get real bitey.
What you do pay for is the scary and goofy idea that plays on your fears of water and some “R-Rated’ college humor (a lot of it). The killer fish don’t disappoint in their method. Of course the para-sailer who keeps dipping down into the water has to turn into a torso. Of course the flotilla of people trying to save themselves has to tip. Of course an outboard boat engine has to be turned into a weapon. This would be a lesser movie without cliché trash like that.
It is odd that the Piranha may actually be the hero’s of this movie. The spring breakers pollute the lake as they party and don’t respect the Sheriff’s authority. Jerry O’Connell portraying a “Girls Gone Wild” style videographer simply needs to be fish bait. The cast of extras who get bitten are extremely guilty of poor acting. We should be thanking those fish.
When you add in brief and mildly entertaining cameos by Richard Dreyfuss, alluding back to his Jaws days and Christopher Lloyd as a Doc Brown-like fish expert, Piranha isn’t a complete waste of time. Elisabeth Shue plays the local sheriff who tries to warn the people. (Side bar to Elisabeth: I don’t care that you take dumb roles like these. I still love you.)
My only wish is that Piranha might have taken the chomping over the top to a place where it might have mocked itself. Then we would have had the holy horror trinity of scary stuff, bloody gore and self-deprecating humor.