2010, R, 89 min. Directed by Alexandre Aja. Starring Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Steven R. McQueen, Jerry O'Connell, Eli Roth, Kelly Brook, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Jessica Szohr, Riley Steele, Paul Scheer.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 27, 2010
Gratuitous in every sense of the word, this second remake of 1978's Joe Dante-directed/Roger Corman-produced Jaws knockoff is ridiculous summertime drive-in fun. It's 89 minutes of blood, breasts, and way, way more blood. It's by far the most over-the-top genre offering since Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, and it may well be the reddest movie in history. (If not, it's certainly the most entertainingly tasteless.) Director Aja steers away from the high gloss grue of his earlier High Tension and instead attempts to out-Corman Corman – a daring goal in the everything immediately, all-the-time Internet age, to be sure – and very nearly succeeds. The story, courtesy of screenwriters Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, can be summed up in one sentence: An earthquake frees a school of carnivorous, Mesolithic-era piranha from beneath the fictional Lake Victoria (actually, Lake Havasu, Ariz.) during spring break revels, and carnage ensues. Local Sheriff Julie (Shue) attempts to maintain order while her teenage son Jake (McQueen) falls in with a Joe “Girls Gone Wild” Francis-style softcore pornographer (O'Connell, who benefits from one of the wittiest death scenes ever). Meanwhile, Jake’s preteen siblings are stranded on an island in the middle of the unfolding daymare, Lloyd revisits nutty-scientist territory as an expository ichthyologist, and Roth (Inglourious Basterds) turns up in a cameo as a wet T-shirt contest emcee, who later finds his face on the receiving end of a ship's prow. Splat. If you're going to fault Aja's manic take on Corman's old terror-tory at all, you might say it's too much of a good (or bad, depending on your gag reflex) thing. The effects work by latex legends Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero is wickedly gruesome – I suppose you haven't lived until you've seen a prehistoric fish regurgitate a gnawed-off male member – and the pace is appropriately breathless. Granted, this poisson rouge is not going to be to everyone's taste, but, that said, it's still considerably more than 21st century gorehounds probably bargained/hoped for. For those who've either never seen or wish to revisit the John Sayles-scripted original, Shout! Factory has just released a fully loaded, bells-and-whistles-and-commentaries-galore Blu-ray and DVD edition that'll make you pine for Pino Donaggio's wistful score and Paul Bartel's summer camp commandant. Either way, come on in. The water's