Rating: 3/5

The original Piranha of 1978 was a cheap and nasty Jaws knock-off.

That's acknowledged here.

Its opening has Richard Dreyfuss finally meeting his match in an Arizona lake. He was always going to need a bigger boat. There's other Jaws bits to distract from the mounting bloodbath. Like the fast pull-focus on Shue's single mom sheriff when she realises - like her Amityville counterpart did - that her own brood are in danger of becoming fishfood.

But as much as this crass, initially hilarious, gorefest of a film actually manages to make you care about some of the characters, it's basically on the side of the fish.

They're a primeval pack unleashed from a subterranean cavern after an earth tremor.

Good timing. The local resort town is hosting spring break for a crowd all too happy to dangle their perpetually unclothed bits in the water. Especially a couple of visiting porn stars and their coke-addled director. They bring to this what every previous killer-fish flick has always lacked - nude underwater ballet. Otherwise it's chompity-chomp-chomp. Scream!

And repeat.

That's done at increasing volume and ghoulishness, the gore and hysteria crossing the line somewhere along the way, killing the comedy almost as fast as the cast.

But its 3D novelty shots are terrifically shameless throughout and the ending saves the film's best punchline for last. Nasty fun.

Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Steven McQueen, Adam Scott, Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames
Director: Alexandre Aja
Rating: R18 (violence, nudity)
Running time: 90 mins
Verdict: Deeply shallow schlock horror.

-TimeOut