Fishies Pt 5 (Piranha 3DD, 2012)

piranha_3dd_posterThe surprise success of Piranha 3D (which has a 73% Fresh Rating) resulted in another 3-D sequel.  Apparently the takeaway for this film’s “creative team” from the previous film’s success was boobs.  The title, Piranha 3DD?  The posters?  The plot?

The story centers around a water park run by David Koechner’s Chet and the return of his step daughter Maddy (Danielle Panabaker, the Flash).  Maddy’s mother has died and Chet is a classy guy introducing an adult section to the Water Park.  Maddy is appalled, but also happy to be back to see her friends.

The prehistoric fish are back, having escaped into a water supply, ultimately reaching the lake by the water park.  There are corrupt cops (Maddy’s boyfriend, because…oh who cares) working with Chet to turn a blind eye to his cost cutting ways.  The fish get into the park’s water system, eat people and cause carnage.

This film is gleefully trashy, yet manages to miss the mark entirely.  The jokes are a bit more mean spirited and the characters are, at best, not terribly interesting to  to watch.  At worst, they are pretty unlikable.  Keochner’s Chet is unlikable, but that is typical for characters he plays.  So, as opposed to other unlikable characters, he is hilarious in his unlikable nature.

The film just falls apart and the plot becomes lost very quickly.  The cameos are, mostly, not clever.  Other than David Hasselhoff, the cameos have no real connection to water based horror.  I mean, Hasselhoff is part of water themed horror.  But Gary Busey?

Along with Koechner, there are some other bright spots.  Paul Scheer and Ving Rhames return, in spite of it appearing both died in the last film.  To be fair, Scheer literally disappears from the movie.  He and Rhames have come to the park to challenge their fear of water (apparently the piranha attack in Lake Victoria was traumatic…babies).  When the Piranhas show up, Rhames reveals his fake legs are also shotguns.  Oddly, Rhames does not appear in the credits.  David Hasselhoff is amusing portraying himself as a rather detached and delusional star.  And  Christopher Lloyd makes a reappearance as entertaining as the previous film.  But it is a pretty short scene.

But this film stumbles in trying to outdo the gore and nudity of the previous film.  It makes Aja’s film to look like art.  Heck, the closing credits take forever, because they are filled with “gags” and “bloopers”.  This film fails while trying to imitate it’s predecessor. Remember that Piranha 3D Rotten Tomatoes rating of 73%? 3DD is at 4%…and deservedly so.

Instability (the Ward, 2010)

the-ward-posterCarpenter’s final film to this point is the Ward.  It was his first feature length film since 2001’s Ghosts of Mars.  Carpenter said he had fallen out of love with film-making.  And so, the Ward was to be his return to his love.  And I wish I could say it is a triumphant return.

The Ward is the story of a young woman, Kristen, in the 60’s locked in a mental ward.  She is locked away with several other young women.  She tries to get along, but feels there is something wrong.  And it is not just the cruel employees who mistreat the girls.  It appears the ward may be haunted.

The film quickly throws away the question of if it is in Kristin’s imagination.

 

It becomes obvious there is a ghost and she is killing off the girls, working her way back to Kristin.  They discover the name of the ghost is Alice a prior patient of Jared Harris’ Dr. Stringer.  Oddly, the hospital seems unconcerned with the disappearing girls.  And then there is the twist…a twist that is pretty easy to see coming early on in the film…and a twist we saw in the 2007 film Identity.  I am not saying you cannot have a reveal similar to a previous film.  But you better find a way to make it a surprise.

The problem is not really the performances…everybody is doing their best with very thin characters.  I suspect that this was partially intentional.  That each girl was some brand of archetype.  But they lack the depth beyond this to sell them as real characters, which again fails to hide the big twist towards the end.

I realize the story and script are not the fault of John Carpenter.  He did not write this film.  Carpenter was strictly in the capacity of director with this one, even the music being composed by someone without input from Carpenter.  Which is regrettable, because he has some terrific musical output the last couple of years.

I truly had high hopes for the Ward, but it feels like a really pedestrian offering from a talented director.

 

 

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