With an IMDb (Internet Movie Database) rating of 3.9, it’s fair to say that Piranha DD is a film that isn’t for everyone. Having watched it last night however, I’d say that it does have more going for it than you’d expect, and would argue that you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it. A sequel to the remake Piranha, released as Piranha 3D in cinemas, Piranha 3DD (predictably pronounced 3 Double D) as it was also known in cinemas, was produced to be what you’d expect from the name, a gore filled titillation fest.
Having not seen the original remake (has Hollywood really reduced us to using oxymorons such as this?) I can only judge the film on its individual merits, likewise having seen it at home I cannot comment on the 3D conversion. Although it was made with some level of self awareness, I am not sure precisely how much the film-makers intended it to be scrutinised, and so please forgive me if I am falling into that postgradute pitfall of overanalysing things.
Obviously aiming at the male 16-24 demographic, Piranha DD tells the story of a water park that is eventually invaded by killer fish. Generally, the trailer tells it like it is although there is more to it than meets they eye, even if Ving Rhames’ part in the actual film is pretty much all seen in the trailer, added only to show more than a passing resemblance to its predecessor, and to include some superfluous footage of shotguns. At only 82 minutes the film is shorter than average, but it does wisely take its time in setting up the blood filled inevitability which is given just the right amount of screen time before it gets old.
As I’m sure you can tell from the name even if you haven’t watched the trailer, DD‘s biggest selling point is scantily clad ladies. Apart from featuring more nipples and even glimpses of full frontal than most films however, something which the trailer wouldn’t have been able to get away with for obvious reasons, the amount of time the films focuses on these assets is actually rather deceiving. Having been hooked and reeled in by the introductory tour of The Big Wet waterpark and all its, ahem, “features”, the middle of the film is pretty much nudity free.
Offering only teasing hints of the climactic massacre the audience is no doubt waiting for, the film follows the traditional slasher setup (complete with an obvious Nightmare On Elm Street homage) and shows a number of incidents focusing on teenage hijinks, antics which despite their sexual nature are somewhat less explicit than the style of the film would suggest. Nakedness aside, adolescent tropes are catered to in the form of one particular trist which would actually seem to argue for abstinence much more than others that are purported to. For all it’s birth trauma, I hardly doubt the Twilight sage comes close to uttering the line “Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina.”
But this is not to say the film doesn’t have its more subtle moments, Christopher Lloyd may be all to familiar but perfectly cast as the expository fringe scientist Mr Goodman, and in fact the scene where Chet (Anchorman‘s David Koechner) tries to convince a small child that it wasn’t his fault is actually unexpectedly touching. Wondering if it has gone to far with this however, the film drastically negates any emotion with gross immaturity within the the next fifteen seconds.
Where the film shines however, is the fact that despite its rather biased marketing campaign conforming to a world of one sided female exploitation (just ask any gamer), the inclusion of rampant but choreographed swimwear modelling is actually defendable. As the films central character, Maddy (Danielle Panabaker), despite needing to be rescued by her eventual love interest Barry (Matt Bush), is more thoughtful, decisive, and proactive than certain other female leads from recent years (yes Twilight, I’m looking at you again); it is through selflessly putting herself in harms way to rescue others that she is endangered, and the fact she is one of the most fully clad females is arbitrary. Even the somewhat obligatory slow motion running sequences are about the best argument for natural rather than fake breasts as you can get, and as such the general portrayal of women throughout the film can actually be described as fully rounded, no pun intended.
On the flip side of this, the only male character with a substantial part not seen to be any combination of horny, greedy, sexist, arrogant, cowardly, and selfish throughout, is considered to not be hetrosexual either. While making the men (or should I say boys?) in the audience laugh at their exploits, the film does so whilst holding something of an exaggerated mirror in front of them.
Overall Piranha DD is a film which, led by a brilliantly self depreciating David Hasselhoff, is more than happy to swim in its own silliness, and even the ‘serious’ characters get brilliant one liners. All of this results in it arguably joining the likes of Starship Troopers as a multi-layered film which features unabashed blood splattering on top of thinly veiled satire.
Oh, and it’s produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, too.