Piranha 3D (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Piranha 3D</strong> (2010)

(In theaters, August 2010) I can appreciate a good monster film despite not being much of a gore-hound, but Piranha 3D caters far too much to that latter crowd to feel like an entertaining experience for all.  Oh, it starts out promisingly enough: The first half-hour sets up a light-hearted monster movie in purely classic fashion: A few plucky heroes, a town threatened by monstrous creatures, the promise of plentiful T&A and a tone that lets you know that this is all going to be awesome.  The pacing may be a touch too slow, but the direction is sure-footed and the genre’s plot structure is faithfully followed.  Where Piranha 3D is a bit more explicit than usual is in its exploitation factor: Viewers are treated to an artful underwater Sapphic interlude (in three dimensions, no less) and promising portents of doom at the intersection between Spring Break bacchanalia and flesh-eating monster fish.  Self-aware and unrepentant, it initially feels like a good old-fashioned monster feature, good for a few shocks and plenty of blood.  Ironically, it’s what Piranha 3D does too well that kills it: When the Big Scene comes around to show the piranhas attacking the spring break students, the result is so bloody, so gory and so mean-spirited that the cumulative impact of the ten-minutes sequence is more stomach-churning than horrific, let alone entertaining: It put me in the frame of mind of seeing a documentary about a massacre rather than an unpretentious monster film, and enjoying the film after that moment became an exercise in futility: the fun of Piranha 3D had been leeched out as soon as people started being gutted, scalped or gnawed to the bone.  (And that’s not even saying anything of the pacing let-down of the film’s last act.)  But, to repeat myself, I’ve never been a gore-hound –and I’m aging out of that market segment no matter what.  Despite recognizing a good chunk of the film’s up-to-the-moment soundtrack (it even features Hadouken!), I’m getting far too old for gore-fests such as Piranha 3D –and if this is the kind of nihilistic meat-grinder “entertainment” that I’m going to be “missing” from now on, I’m looking forward to old age.

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