Piranha 3DD (2012) – A Review


A review of the 2012 horror sequel Piranha 3DD – one truly terrible movie

Piranha 3DD horor movie sequel

Piranha 3DD. Wow. It is bad.

I enjoyed the the first Piranha 3D in 2010. It didn’t pretend to be any more than it was – a silly B-Movie. It had some gore, creative deaths, amusing cameos, a self-aware sense of humor, goofy looking CGI piranha’s and Kelly Brook naked.

It was by no means a great film, it was just a whole lot of fun cheese. Something of a novelty movie. It was a nice break from all the ultra-serious horror films we had been getting lately. I was scratching my head as to how

Elizabeth Shue ended up in it. That seemed very odd to me. And Kelly Brook was an extremely fetching eventual piranha meal.

Kelly Brook Piranha 3D premiere hot sexy
Kelly Brook

But the characters did try to add some seriousness to the outrageous predicament. So, the horror and suspense scenes sold the idea. While at the same time there was that wink-wink attitude letting us know that everyone was completely conscious as to how silly this all was and were just trying to deliver an outrageous entertaining gore fest with lots of blood, boobs and humor.

Jerry O’Connel’s over the top character probably wouldn’t work in most horror films, but here he was really funny.

So what’s the difference between Piranha 3D and its sequel Piranha 3DD? They both try to do the same thing. The sequel tries to deliver on gruesome piranha attacks, water turning red with blood, gratutious nudity, along with a dose of humor.

And unlike the original, it unbelievably fails to make any of it fun.

I was surprised at genuinely how bad this film turned out. Granted, there’s not a whole lot you can do with piranha killing people. Characters go into the water, you milk the suspense, people get eaten by vicious fishies and the characters regroup on dryland before heading back out into the water. How can anyone possibily screw it up so badly? 

Piranha 3dd 2012 water park scenePiranha 3DD is definitely one of the worst films I’ve seen in quite awhile.

I was apprehensive about this flick as soon as I saw the trailer. I sensed a stink coming off it immediately and I was completely mistaken. It stunk even more than I originally thought.

Let’s approach this as if piranha flicks were their own genre. There are acouple of things you should have to make a B-level, decent, entertaining one.

Point One – A Sense of Humor

Piranha 1978 Original PosterEven the 1978 original knew full well that it was silly. Director Joe Dante and the script by John Sayles had some fun with the idea. They knew it was a Jaws knockoff and weren’t ashamed to hide from it. Everyone knew it and they embraced it.

However, they also grounded it in some kind of horror reality. The remake took the humor to an even more jacked up level. It was poking fun at itself and inviting you to laugh along, but it still tried to balance the humor with an actual horror movie that was going on.

Here….the filmmakers apparent sense of comedy stopped with having the title include ‘3DD’ in it. Their attempts at humor fail miserably from beginning to end. For the life of me, I can’t imagine how or why these jokes or sight gags they came up with are supposed to be funny. It just escapes me. It’s dumbed down, juvenile humor to the highest degree.

So, it results in scenes where I was just left staring at the screen and experiencing conflicted emotions between hating the people on screen or feeling sorry for everyone involved in this film.

The pinnacle of funny in this is apparently the casting of David Hasselhoff playing himself. And what do you know, we get Baywatch jokes. I don’t know if anyone else is aware of this….but the goofing on that Baywatch slo-mo running thing…..it’s over. It’s been over for a long time. And don’t be mistaken that Hasselhoff just appears briefly in the movie, he’s pretty much a co-star.

Piranha 3DD David HasselhoffGary Busey pops up and is given nothing funny to say or do. Wasted. Christopher Lloyd returns doing his wacky scientist character. Again nothing special. Ving Rhames pops back up now legless and afraid of the water. You want the entire joke of Rhames’ appearance – it’s all given away in the trailer.

The original had cameos briefly onscreen, they gave you a chuckle and the film moved on. Here every supposed ‘cameo’ either overstays they’re welcome or doesn’t approach the heights of chuckle worthiness that the first gave us. OR in some cases both. Essentially there is no wit or intelligence to the humor in this film.

Point Two – Creative deaths

It’s not much fun to see a chorus line of people go swimming into the water, start screaming, get pulled under and eaten. Then the next group does the same thing. You have to try to do some tweaking, get inspired, figure out a way to switch things up with every subsequent piranha attack. Let’s face it, you always need someone going into the water, but at least attempt to get creative with this scenario.

In previous movies they tried to make these unique. The deaths were horrific, they made an impact on the surviving characters, people were scared, panicked, suspense kicked into high gear to try to stop these killer fish. Previous piranha flicks had folks trying to stay afloat on disintegrating rafts, shimmying across ropes hanging over the water, get out of sinking boats.


Piranha 3DD 2012 Danielle PanabakerIn 3DD…..there’s no trace of taking these even a little bit seriously. The attacks are laughable at best (and I’m being really generous here – they’re mainly forgettable and embarrassing). Director John Gulager doesn’t know how to create a tense scene or film and choreograph one halfway decent piranha attack.

Oh they do try to do some new stuff. A dream sequence in a bathtub. That’s a nice, lazy, stale idea. A dream sequence….I thought we said goodbye to those years ago.

And let’s not forget the teens having sex scene and a piranha comes out of the girls vagina and bites the guy’s…..you know. During this scene I was suspecting this was a dream sequence. It just had to be. There is no logic to any of this so it can’t be real. Nope, I was wrong. Could the filmmakers have possibly accidentally goofed up which scene was the dream sequence in this???

Point Three – Nudity

Piranha 3DD movie posterHey, let’s get old school, earn that R-rating and show off some boobs! Piranha fans want to see some skin amongst all the carnage. Piranha 3D was able to not so subtly include naked women by setting the movie during spring break with lots of exhibitionist bikini babes on display.

Piranha 3DD again has a nude-friendly backdrop – an adult themed ‘Big Wet Waterpark’. This immediately makes things feel a bit more vulgar and sordid. The jokes by the park owner David Koechner are not only tasteless, but worse not funny at all.

So yeah, it delivers the boobs and it’s odd to say, but they aren’t as satisfying an addition here as they were in the first film. Last time we got the gorgeous Brook swimming au natural underwater like a mermaid. Here, we have a string of porn stars or strippers or whoever these chicks are running towards us bouncing away, getting hosed down, swimming around all in slo-mo.

I have no idea how this film made looking at boobs boring, but somehow it did! It’s as if they kept including more and more shots of boobs to try to make us forget how bad the rest of the film is and it doesn’t work.

Thinking about it….I think we see more boobs than piranha’s in this….

Point Four – A Straight Forward Story

Killer fish in the water eating people. How can we stop them? That’s it! Very simple. We’re not talking about a complicated story filled with dramatic symbolism. The original and remake knew enough that you just couldn’t keep doing fish attack on top of fish attack without anything else going on. There’s going to be some time to kill in between those, so they tried to keep things interesting with the characters and what was happening on land until the next victim got nibbled to death.

Piranha 3DD director John Gulager
Director John Gulager

Good God….3DD doesn’t even try to keep us engaged! It is simply a series of scenes of boring characters either mugging for the camera or annoying us to the point we want them to become fish food.

It’s amazing. It’s as if the filmmakers weren’t even trying to entertain us and they were expecting us to rejoice in the most asinine images, scenes, characters and humor imaginable. It feels really insulting.

The sequel does have this gimmick setting of the piranha getting into a waterpark and it does nothing with that idea. The climactic attack is a jumble of shots of big chested women running, water getting splashed around and Hasselhoff making jokes. None of it makes sense. At that point I didn’t even care. Gulager clearly had no idea what do with this sequence or even attempted to get inventive with the staging of any of it.

Setting a piranha attack in a crystal, clear pool might have painted the filmmakers in a corner with their fish stars. Now they’ll surely have to figure out how to convince us these fish are in there and will have to show us very clearly all of them. There’s no using murky water to hide anything.

They didn’t worry about this problem at all apparently because we don’t really see any piranha in the pool. It seems Gulager’s rationale was – “Just have everyone splash around and carry some rubber piranha’s around, that should be good enough”. Unreal.

Piranha 3DD 2012 David Hasselhoff
Hasselhoff gags galore

I started to suspect while watching this the only reason the waterpark setting was used was simply because of cost. It was just much cheaper to shoot in a water park and come up with some reason how the fish get in there. Who want’s to go through all the pain of shooting in an actual ocean or lake. Sitting poolside and filming would be so much easier, so let’s just have it take place there.- even if we don’t have any good ideas for it.

If you needed further proof that Gulager and his team of talented folks who made this film were low on ideas, all you need to do is look at the run time of Piranha 3DD –  eighty-three minutes. However, that’s padded out with approximately thirteen minutes of closing credits and outtakes. None of them by the way are the least bit funny.

And in addition we’re also treated to even more Hasselhoff jokes. I think they tacked on every inch of footage they shot with him. I was kind of surprised that they actually did multiple takes for this film. You mean they actually reshot stuff to get it better???

John Gulager Piranha PremiereYes, it is crazy that I’m ranting about a lousy piranha movie. Most people would probably say “well, what did you expect?”. And all I can say is that I was expecting something better than this! I would compare this to one of those cheap, goofy SyFy movies, like Piranhaconda, Sharktopus and Dinocroc vs. Supergator, but those are much more fun than anything in this.

So across the board – horrible and boring. Piranha 3DD took all the elements that Piranha fans enjoyed in the previous entries and pushed them way too far and has arrogantly sucked all the charm out of them. This did no favors for the actors, other than getting them some work. They’re not even worth mentioning, it doesn’t matter who these people are.

The special effects, what there are, are lousy. The writing is garbage and the direction by Gulager is embarrassing. I’ve since learned Gulager was a winner on Project Greenlight. Now not having seen any of his other films and only basing this reaction on his work demonstrated here, I think that show had to be rigged.

You know how in the first film Jerry O’Connel sort of played that obnoxious, untalented Girls Gone Wild guy? It’s as if thatcharacter directed Piranha 3DD.

The only thing Piranha 3DD did accomplish was probably putting an end to this series for good.


2 thoughts on “Piranha 3DD (2012) – A Review

  1. David Hasselhoff was introduced at an Applebee's restaurant in an earlier draft of the script.

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