The bromidic High Tension and a remake of The Hills Have Eyes didn't exactly warrant high expectations for a remake of Joe Dante's Piranha, which was itself a low-budget remake of Jaws using The Birds as a template. There's not much to Dante's film except that scenarist John Sayles deserves credit for writing a goofy riff on Hitchcock's classic 2 years before John Carpenter did it with The Fog. So why see a film with such a lackluster pedigree? Well, a friend promised me as much boobs and blood simulated in 3D tactility as an R rating could handle. And, for once, director Alexandre Aja doesn't disappoint. There's a beautifully choreographed underwater nude balletic lesbian make-out scene that surely points to the future in porn on high-def 3D TVs. And the full-scale attack of the piranha on the vacationing college kids is delivered like Saving Private Ryan's Normandy invasion
set in an MTV spring-break special, only with more carnage.
The central aspect to The Birds that neither Dante nor Carpenter got right was the Divine Vengeance angle where the mortal victims in their finitude couldn't come to grips with Judgement Day. At the end of Hitchcock's film, you're still asking why, whereas you're given a reason in the two derivations: In The Fog, the attack is payback for an act of theft on which the coastal town was founded; in Piranha, it's a matter of basic biological drive allowed to take its course due to a bureaucratic coverup so that a prime vacationing spot not be deprived of commerce (as was the case in Jaws). Piranha 3D doesn't achieve Hitchcock's metaphysical ambiguity, either, but it does provide for a more satisfying version of retribution.