El Stinko:Piranha 3DD

After the calamitous events at Lake Victoria in Piranha 3D, the prehistoric piranhas set their sights on a new target: Big Wet, a water park that is set to open just in time to draw massive crowds for the start of Spring Break. It’s up to the daughter of the greedy and corrupt owner of Big Wet to stop her father from opening the park and causing an even bigger massacre than the one that occurred the summer before.

What we thought:

Thanks to Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders, we already know that there’s a thin line between love and hate, but who knew that the line awesome and awful would be thinner still. When I reviewed Piranha 3D a couple of years ago, I noted that it was about as good a piece of unapologetically exploitative trash as you could hope to find. It was the sort of the film that the badder it got, the better it was.

Here we are, less than two years later, and its sequel is already upon us. Once again its mixture of gore, boobs and self-aware silliness is just as unapologetic, just as trashy and just as exploitative as it was in the first film – if not significantly more so – and yet, Piranha 3DD fails miserably at capturing even a fraction of its predecessor’s grotty charm.

It wasn’t going to be easy to replicate the first film’s surprisingly deft balance of sleaze and likeability, but it’s still pretty shocking to consider how far and how quickly this franchise has fallen with just its sophomoric effort – especially since it sticks so closely to the formula of its predecessor.

Yes, as the title implies, its bigger and brasher than Piranha 3D, but Piranha 3DD seemingly redresses the balance by being even more aware of its own silliness and even more willing to poke fun at itself. And, to be fair, it might smack of opportunistic money-grubbing but, for all of its gleeful blood-letting and sexual objectification, it never feels truly mean-spirited or hateful.

The film isn’t at all truly objectionable or obscene (even puritanical Middle America doesn’t seem to have much to say on the matter), it’s just total rubbish and more than a little dull. It comes across as less a full on sequel to Piranha 3D and more of a pale remake. Remakes are one thing but remakes of remakes? How could this not have ended badly?

What’s really odd about Piranha 3DD though isn’t that it just retreads on ground already covered, but that its attempt to improve, so to speak, on the original by upping the ante on the sex, the violence and jokes has backfired in the most peculiar of ways.

It would make sense for its more “extreme” sensibilities to push Piranha 3DD into levels of tastelessness that would be too much for most audiences to digest. What has happened instead though, is that the film’s attempts to push the bad-taste envelope has made it less successful as exploitative trash than the relatively “toned down” original.

It may be more gory but the gore is completely undermined by being too over the top to buy into (a single piranha should not cause your head to explode just by knocking into it, no matter how mutated it is) and is let down further by some terribly unconvincing CG effects.

It may be more self-aware and it might pack in more jokes but that doesn’t help when most of the humour falls absolutely flat – not least of which is David Hasslehoff’s dreary extended cameo, which only goes to prove that The Hoff is far less funny in reality than he should be in theory.

Piranha 3DD may get a few browny points for its likeable lead (Danielle Panabaker) and it may work for people who either haven’t seen Piranha 3D or are less discerning with their trash-cinema than I am, but when not even a full-on bonkers Christopher Lloyd performance and lots and lots of gratuitous nudity can’t save your shameless B-movie from stinking, it might be time to rethink the formula for the inevitable 3DDD.