Alexandre Aja may have announced his horror career with High Tension, but he’s really been known for his remakes of classic films, like directing The Hills Have Eyes and writing and producing Maniac. Here, he presents a much more satiric take on undersea terror, along with a cast game for pure silliness at times.
It all starts with Richard Dreyfuss playing a fisherman named Matt Boyd, but we all know that it’s Matt Hooper, particularly because he’s listening to the song “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” which he sang with Quint and Brody in Jaws. Dreyfuss did this cameo for a large salary, which he promptly donated to charity. Regardless, he’s only here to get ripped apart by piranha.
Jake Forester is kinda sorta the hero of this whole endeavor, crushing on his old friend Kelly and dealing with her boyfriend and his jerk pals. To make money that summer, Jake is working for porn director Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), who is looking for spots to shoot his latest film with his star actresses, Danni Arslow and Crystal Shephard (legit porn star Riley Steele), and cameraman Andrew Cunningham (Paul Scheer of the podcast How Did This Get Made?). He leaves his little brother and sister behind and takes his crush Kelly onto the porn boat The Barracuda.
Meanwhile, Jake’s mom Julie (Elisabeth Shue, somehow roped into this gory mess) is searching for the missing Boyd along with Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames). When they discover his body, they consider closing the lake, but much like every single movie that I’ve ever seen about killer fish, the prospect of tourism dollars keeps everything open despite the danger.
Meanwhile, Julie and a team of seismologists led by Novak (Adam Scott) to discover buried prehistoric lake filled with piranha eggs. They capture one alive — despite big losses — and take it to pet store owner Carl Goodman (Christopher Lloyd!) who was once a marine biologist. He tells them that this species is incredibly aggressive and has already grown cannibalistic.
Our heroes try to warn everyone, but of course, people just want to jet ski and have sex in the water, which means that every single person must be devoured by mini-fish with big teeth. Nearly everyone on The Barracuda is killed before Jake reaches his mother for help. Only Jake, Kelly and the kids survive, using the porn director’s corpse as bait and as is customary, blowing up something real good to kill off the killer fish.
Just when it seems like the coast is clear — literally — Goodman calls to tell them that these are only the babies. Novak wonders where the parents are just in time for one to eat him.
Chuck Russell (The Blob, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors) was originally slated to direct this and I would have loved to have seen his vision. That said, this is a fun and fast-moving affair. And when it comes to awesome directors, Aja was planning on having the directors of the last two Piranha films, Joe Dante and James Cameron play boat captains, but Cameron was too busy.