31 Screams in October, Vol. 4, #26: Piranha (2010)

Posted: October 26, 2018 in Movie Review

26. Piranha (2010)

Director: Alexandre Aja

Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss

Among the horror community, the combination of boobs and gore is roughly comparable to peanut butter and chocolate. Together, they are seen as being more pleasing than they are individually. However, undeniable is the evidence that most of the very best films of the genre get along just fine with only small doses of either. When your senses are being overloaded with scenes both of extreme violence and sexual content, eventually the overall effect is watered down. This is a crisis which the 2010 “Piranha” remake (also known as “Piranha 3D”) runs into very early on in its brief 88 minutes.

Jake Forester (Steven R. McQueen, grandson of the legendary Steve McQueen) is a teenager on spring break. Being the son of the town sheriff (Elisabeth Shue), Jake is stuck babysitting his bratty brother and sister when he’d rather be out partying like the other 2,000 or so kids his age who are already out on the lake. Determined, Jake finds a way to ditch his siblings once their mother is out patrolling. Jake is spotted by Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), a sleazy Joe Francis type who is shooting his latest movie featuring college girls doing stupid things they’ll regret once they’ve sobered up. Derrick needs a local to guide him around the area, which gains Jake access to Derrick’s boat.

This bit of business gets Jake in a bit of hot water, not with his mother but rather with his crush, Kelly Driscoll (Jessica Szohr), who boards the boat to get back at Jake for lying about his plans. Already onboard for Derrick’s movie are actresses Crystal (pornstar Riley Steele) and Danni (Kelly Brook), the latter of which forms a friendship with Jake. Derrick would like Kelly to participate, too, and she does until she becomes ill from too much alcohol and has to go below deck.

While all of this is going on, Jake’s mother has been investigating mysterious disappearances, leading to a gruesome discovery which brings up the possibility of closing the lake for public safety. Further investigating (and further loss of life) reveals that a school of piranha is responsible. Not only that, but they seem to have emerged from a fissure generated by a recent earthquake. The Sheriff and her remaining crew bring one of the piranhas to marine biologist Carl Goodman (Christopher Lloyd), who recognizes this breed as having been declared extinct for a very long time. Okay, so this time, the piranhas are prehistoric rather than being the result of a military experiment. Whatever…

The piranhas eventually crash the spring break party, tearing to shreds pretty much everyone we’ve been introduced to apart from the Forester family and Kelly. Oh, and of course Carl Goodman who supplies the out-of-nowhere setup for the sequel, which ends up as 2013’s “Piranha 3DD.” Ha ha, get it? Boobs! Actually, humor is one of the stronger features of “Piranha.” The 1978 original already was a parody (of sorts) of “Jaws.” The 2010 version goes full throttle with this idea, casting Richard Dreyfuss in the opening scene as an ill-fated fisherman who sings “Show Me the Way to Go Home” shortly before becoming the piranhas’ first victim. It ends up as the cleverest thing this movie does.

Steven R. McQueen, the second “The Vampire Diaries” alumnus in my marathon, does okay. He’s helped out by a good supporting cast, several of whom don’t last nearly long enough. Particularly good are Christopher Lloyd, whose Carl Goodman is an obvious callback to Doc Brown from “Back to the Future,” and Jerry O’Connell who is appropriately abrasive as the sleazy Derrick Jones. The movie thoughtfully saves the most gruesome demise for his character. On the other hand, Elisabeth Shue (whom I generally like) is miscast as Sheriff Forester. Greg Nicotero of TV’s “The Walking Dead” is credited as Key Special Makeup Effects Supervisor. That might account for how well done the carnage looks overall, however this movie is such an insane bloodbath that I just can’t seem to care after a while. If you’re looking for a good Alexandre Aja-directed remake, watch 2006’s “The Hills Have Eyes,” instead.

  1. Sylvia Williams says:

    Can’t believe the movie “went there” with Richard Dreyfus! It certainly has enough stars to have made people go see it initially. How big was the box office take?

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