A year after a prehistoric piranha attack, entrepreneur Chet (David Koechner) opens an adult-themed water park despite the advice of his marine biologist stepdaughter Maddy (Panabaker). At the grand opening, where celebrity lifeguard David Hasselhoff makes an appearance, the fish attack again.
In the Hollywood feeding frenzy of gimmicked-up remakes of genre hits from the 1970s and ‘80s, Alexandre Aja’s Piranha (Piranha 3D on the ads) was a modest hit and an immensely enjoyable exploitation pic. While James Cameron was boosting 3D for its ‘immersive environment’ and cutting-edge tech, Aja went back to the old ballyhoo and tossed gore, tits and mutant fish out of the screen with all the relish of Robert Shaw scattering chum to attract sharks. It’s no surprise that, while we wait in vain for sequels to the reduxes of tentpoles like Friday the 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street, a new Piranha has been rushed through production and splashes down in multiplexes.
Directed by John Gulager, of the extremely gory direct-to-the-video-dungeon Feast franchise, this opens well: any film which begins with Gary Busey complaining of ‘a smell bad enough to knock a buzzard off a gut-wagon’ is off to a good start. Then, sadly, a protracted first act doesn’t catch fire as sundry good-looking youngsters get chomped in knockabout nastiness which isn’t that effective, while Gulager fails to be interested in a love triangle between a marine biologist (Daniella Panabaker), a handsome-but-crooked-and-chicken cop (Chris Zylka) and a nebbish water park employee who can’t swim (Matt Bush). There’s stuff about how the fish got from one lake to another and now into the orgiastic water park, but that’s just marking time too.
Things get an enormous lift when the crusty character actors come back: first Christopher Lloyd, reprising his role as a batty ichthyologist who gabbles out exposition; then Ving Rhames, returning as a now-legless deputy who is still afraid to go in the water but has a Robert Rodriguez-like flair with shotgun prostheses; and, best of all, ‘80s beach icon David Hasselhoff as himself. Gulager did something similar with Jason Mewes, an early casualty in Feast, but Hasselhoff’s game turn here as a faded celeb (he even takes digs about Anaconda 3) is the energy boost the picture needs. The Hoff wanders unflappably through the last-reel carnage with the zonked-out waywardness of a sham lifeguard who knows how to pose but has no idea how to help when the fish begin to eat the guests.
Despite the title, less a jiggle-fest than Piranha, and thrown together lazily: the fish attacks are nothing youve not seen before. Still, amid the shambles theres a fair amount of Saturday night entertainment. Caution: not suitable for Sunday morning.