Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: The Hospital 2

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2016
Images from the Internet

The Hospital 2
Written, produced and directed by Jim O’Rear and Daniel Emery Taylor
Deviant Pictures / itn distribution / MVD Visual
120 minutes, 2015

In full confession mode, I have not seen the first The Hospital (2013), so I am going to be reviewing this mostly as a standalone. I did see one of the directors’ earlier works, Camp Massacre (2014; aka Fat Chance, reviewed HERE), which was occasionally problematic, but on the whole a lot of fun. I have high hopes for this one. Okay, that being said, now for the viewing.
* * *
Okay, I’m about a third of the way in. You may ask why I’m doing this in segments? Well, the film is two hours long, and with all that’s going on, honestly, I need to watch it in segments.

Betsy Rue
The prologue is apparently the ending of the first film. Two characters escaped the carnage, Skye (Betsy Rue replacing Robyn Shute) and Beth (Constance Medrano), and if you’ve seen Friday the 13th Part II (1981) or Halloween 2 (1981) and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), you can guess that at some point worlds are going to recollide.

This one picks up five years later (even though there’s only two years between films).The hospital in question this time isn’t some abandoned place, it’s a modern facility for treating women who have been abused. In this case, however, it’s run by Alan (co-director O’Rear), from the first film, and a new character, his daughter Samantha (Megan Emerick). They use the patients as victims to load up to a Black Net sex‘n’snuff show, which sets up a few stylized pieces for activities of torment, resulting in sexual force and death. That is, when they aren’t busy with their own joint copulations. Yeah, you read that right.

Doing his own thing is Alan’s accomplice, Stanley (co-director Taylor), who has normally liked necrophilia, but is coming around to a bit of warmth in his victims. This story seems like it was springboarded from the amoral collective of House of a Thousand Corpses (2003) / The Devil’s Rejects (2005). While the earlier Hospital had more of a mystic element with ghosts and demons, but here it’s all human monsters.

Jim O\Rear
So as you can see, this film is a bit of a nihilistic endeavor, without as much of the humor of Camp Massacre. There are a number of issues I’m having already, and here is just one of them: the way I imagine the writing session going is that the co-writers had a list of things that would piss people off, and then put a check next to them as they are included. Previous reviews I’ve read of Hospital (trying to catch up a bit on the previous plot) discussed how misogynistic the direction of the story is, and I agree. Men are done away with pretty quickly, but the women’s pain – in the form of torture and rape – play all the way out. Even if they don’t show a lot of the action (i.e., torture), which is blocked by either a body part, or is happening just below the camera frame, it’s the uni-direction of gender that I found the most disturbing.

There is a lot of torture porn out there now, from the detailed (such as both the Japanese and American Guinea Pig series, A Serbian Film, the Hostel and Saw franchises, etc.) to the less so (pick most slasher films), but most of them deal with both men and women being abused. Here, it’s purely females who get the truly nasty stuff thrown at them (or in them), with one exception.

Daniel Emery Taylor
Part of the reason for the length of the film, which seems kind of excessive at two hours, is that it can be looked at as actually Parts 2 and 3, and there are two overlapping but different storylines. The first half is mainly the family shenanigans, and the other is picking up the pieces from the first film. The time is nearly evenly split in half, with the second being more personal than …1000 Corpses. A family comes under attack by our troupe of snuffers, including Debbie Rochon, who surely must be aimed towards some kind of record of being in the most films. Usually she does cameos (or extended ones), but it’s always best when she gets to play at least a semi-central character, to show off her acting chops (and she’s got ‘em, boy; if I may digress, check out my review of her directorial debut HERE). This is also her first topless scene I’ve seen in quite a long time (love the Anarchy A tat on her shoulder!), though, to be fair, O’Rear takes it a step further with an erect penis. It’s good to be the ki – I mean, director!

One of the interesting points for me is the sheer and literal weight of many of the cast, and their lack of inhibitions to nudity. I’m not a chubby chaser, but as a culture where skinny is not considered thin enough, it’s great that the casting included more post-fast-food-world realistic sized humans rather than only media-inspired “beauty.” Kudos for that.

Megan Emerick
The problem with the length isn’t that the film drags, because most the pacing is fine with some bits that can definitely be excised (such as the entire preacher scene, which has no story advancement), but rather that it’s overload until the point of it being too much. Well, for many, I’m sure it’s already excessive, but for the fan or those of us who review this stuff, it becomes a level of impatience for a conclusion, whether the villains get away with it or are all or partly blown away (I’m not saying which is occurs here). I’ve talked before about the tedium of having people walk through a house, usually with just a flashlight, avoiding a ghost or killer, and the scene lasts too long to keep the tension. That’s what I’m positing here. 

How insane is this film? Well, here is the description of the film on IMDB: A mentally sick and illness two guys and one woman are running a shelter for women how got assaulted by their husbands. Basically as the events go on the place looks shelter but in reality it's where sick behavior and illness minds perform their acts [sic]. I baffled about why they let that stand as their official depiction.

Hopefully here is a hypothetical question: you’re locked in a room, and you know someone is going to kill you. Slowly and painfully. Do you sit down and sweat it out, or search the room for a weapon of any kind? Just askin’.

I would like to add that there are also quite a few positives about the film. For example, for what it is, most of the acting is decent. The shining stars are the two directors, though. Sure, most of Taylor’s character is smoldering anger, but O’Rear really seems natural, like he’s embracing the part, which is possibly the scariest thing about this. The other end of it is real-life reality show psychic investigator (and crew member) Scott Tepperman, who play a fictional version of himself, and is the comedy relief, though the biggest laugh is at his acting drunk here; I don’t know what his show is like as I’ve never seen it).

Despite the occasional oops! moments, such as one victim breathing (twice!) after she has been killed, the film looks pretty decent. Lots of nudity and the gore is plentiful, even if you never really see any direct object touch flesh, and it definitely has its icky moments, mostly involving body fluids and a drilldo.

After the trailer, first up in the extras is a 23-minute, five-part Video Diary. There’s nothing deep or meaningful, but it was quite a bit of fun, showing the backstage antics of the crew who seem to genuinely get along. And, of course, off-script Rochon is as always a hoot, thanks to her sharp improv film experience. When a release is particularly gruesome and the cast gels, sometimes getting some steam off is a joy to watch. A new part was based on approximately every two days of the 10-day shoot.

Next up is a 6:34-minute Blooper and Outtakes Reel, which is typical, but because of the way the cast interacts, it comes across as enjoyable, rather than just them saying the missed line damn it! Rue especially comes across as proving that she’s game for the action. Last up is the 13-minute “Kentworthy Featurette,” a more serious, historical piece by O’Rear about the century-and-a-half old haunted Hall which fills in for the film’s Home for Abused Women, in Marion, Alabama. A tour of the place is given by its owner and her friend, which is dry but interesting, despite the cheesy music.

The film’s finale is actually quite satisfying, surprisingly enough. Whether this is the end or beginning of the franchise is difficult to say, but I’m hoping that these guys go back to some comedy horror rather than nasties for nastiness sake, because they tend to be a bit more fun to watch. Would I recommend this? That depends on the genre of the person, rather than a general yes or no. Will I watch this again? It would probably be safe to say fat chance.

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