Alexandre Aja says his 3D re-working of Joe Dante’s 1978 original is an attempt to recreate the ‘guilty pleasure movies’ of his youth. So here, in the best/worst traditions of '70s exploitation cinema, are flesh-eating fishy gore, lip-smacking nudity and lots of laugh-out-loud silliness. If you’re looking for the anti-establishment message found in the John Sayles’ scripted, Roger Corman-produced ‘Jaws’ rip-off, you will be disappointed. However, the re-make’s cheesy, eye-popping 3D effects – flayed bodies, naked breasts, vomit and a severed penis are all flung out of the screen - are an authentic, affectionate throwback to cheapo Cormanesque excess.
When an underground earthquake releases shoals of prehistoric piranha into Lake Victoria, local sheriff Julie Forester (Elizabeth Shue) tries in vain to persuade several thousand Spring Break revellers to quit their aquatic hedonism before they become fish food. Meanwhile, her son Jake (Steven R McQueen) has been lured onto a pleasure boat by slimeball porn director Derrick (Jerry O’Connell) and busty, bikini-clad ‘star’ Danni (British ‘glamour model’ Kelly Brook). Also aboard is nice girl Kelly (Jessica Szohr), on whom Jake has a crush, who ends up licking tequila, salt and lime off the body and lips of Danni’s co-star Crystal (real-life porn star Riley Steele). But once the fishy feeding frenzy starts, it’s human flesh that’s on the menu.
Aja serves up the tongue-in-cheek thrills, CGI-enhanced gore and gratuitous nudity with such unabashed relish that this may prove to be the summer’s break-out horror hit. There are also nice cameos from Richard Dreyfuss, reprising his ‘Jaws’ role, and ‘Hostel’ director Eli Roth, who completely loses his head after hosting a wet T-shirt contest. A guilty pleasure? Guilty as charged.