Piranha 2010

There are a number of fish-featuring horrors, a pretty big boat to fill, actually. And other than Jaws, you’d be hard pressed to find a a more spirited fishy eco-horror than the original Piranha.

Joe Dante and John Sayles definitely helped take a quickie Corman/New World Pictures production, what Steven Spielberg called “the best of the Jaws ripoffs, and dare we say, elevate it.

Alexandre Aja, kinda does the opposite – but in an endearing way.

Piranha 3D is pure summer trash, as the name suggests. It knows what it is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. This “poisson” has frisson. That’s because Aja is at the helm, the Parisian who’s as dependable as they come in the horror space, thanks to his terrific Haute Tension and helming one of the better horror remakes that’s ever seen the light of day and dark of cineplexes, The Hills Have Eyes. With bold tracking shots and a gift for scene setting, Aja manages to infuse a bit of seriousness in what is essentially a frolicking spring break T&A fest.

The characters? More caricatures, including Stand By My’s Jerry O’Connell as a smut peddler and a winning (albeit losing for him) cameo by Jaws’ Richard Dreyfuss. The latter is basically offed so that Aja can breathe deep and consider his shark demons exorcised.

What’s left is a bunch of nifty kills (thanks to Greg Nicotero) and bodacious bodies. What more could you ask for? While this is easily the least compelling Aja flick, it Piranha 3D certainly found a life for itself, and proved that beneath the depths, no depth is required.

Horror fish films are fun.

Beneath is a spirited Larry Fessenden killer catfish flick, while Plankton is a wonky 90s Italian horror that not nearly enough people have seen. There’s probably more where that came from, unless global warming boosts ocean temps a smidge.

*** (out of 5)