Do you remember 2013's THE HOSPITAL? Perhaps you won't at first, as the generic title suggests precisely what it is: another low-budget modern horror flick, the likes of which we see clogging up supermarket DVD shelves with alarming frequency these days.
But cast your mind back a couple of years and you may recall that this was the film that caused a stir when a customer complained after buying a copy of said DVD at one such supermarket: Tesco. The chain of stores duly recalled the title from their shelves, effectively giving invaluable free publicity to a film that otherwise would've swiftly languished in obscurity. Ironically, the offensive DVD had actually been pre-cut by distributors Point Blank, by over quarter-of-an-hour.
Well, its "banned from Tesco" status undoubtedly helped the otherwise rather tepidly-rated THE HOSPITAL find enough success to warrant a sequel.
Say "hello", then, to ... THE HOSPITAL 2.
Following a brief recap of the final moments from its predecessor - in which a ghost hunter and a curious student took a tour of the old St Leopold's Hospital, an apparently haunted building, only to fall foul of a pair of rapist/murderers lurking within its otherwise abandoned walls - we catch up with survivors Skye (Betsy Rue) and Beth (Constance Medrano).
Five years on, they're done their best to get on with their lives. They now live together with their English pal and everything seems cool ... until they read that one of their aggressors has been released from prison. The girls are instantly unsettled by this revelation.
And rightly so. Said aggressors - Alan (Jim O'Rear) and Stanley (Daniel Emery Taylor) - were snuff filmmakers intent on capturing, raping and torturing women on camera for the benefit of paying wealthy online customers. And now, they're back in business.
Only, this time Alan and Stanley are working under the cover of running a shelter for battered women. The place is co-run by Alan's lover Samantha (Megan Emerick) - who also happens to be his daughter. She's just as sick as Daddy: she likes to masturbate while watching him rape and kill his victims via a monitor screen.
While Alan picks off his domestically abused clientele one at a time, taking them down to his new front's basement to film their torture for the benefit of paying viewers, Stanley is disappearing for hours on end - and no-one knows where to.
In actual fact, he's busy trying to find the whereabouts of the "ones that got away", Skye and Beth...
Story-wise there's not really much more to THE HOSPITAL 2. Considering the film is 2 hours in length you'd expect that a premise so slight would make this whole thing drag. Bizarrely, that's not the case at all.
I say "bizarrely" because THE HOSPITAL 2 feels like it really shouldn't work on any level. The acting is often weak, the script frequently risible. The tone is all over the place - one moment mournful, the next playful, the next trite, the next brutal. There are a couple of extended scenes thrown in midway through which attempt to inject some moral weight into proceedings - arguing the nature of forgiveness and faith, for instance - which are totally at loggerheads with everything else in the film. Despite the involvement of the excellent Marcus Koch, the special effects seem extremely rudimentary. The budget is lacking in all production aspects. The music is often inappropriate. The pacing is awkward; such is the bloated length of many of the film's set-pieces.
And yet, the film is oddly engaging. Perhaps not the right word. THE HOSPITAL 2 is ... confounding. It's a real oddity. I'll try and explain why.
See, all of those shortcomings listed above work curiously in its favour, thanks in part to bizarrely watchable, cartoonish over-performances from co-directors O'Rear and Taylor, and a deliciously evil Emerick. Those also would feel like a potentially accidental authentic feel of 70s-style sleaze at play here, wherein the awkward marrying of humour and sadistic sexual violence create a level of politically incorrect spectacle rarely reached in modern genre pictures. I suspect, from some of the dialogue and props used, that the films of Rob Zombie were an influence, but somehow THE HOSPITAL 2 ends up more closely resembling the likes of BLOODSUCKING FREAKS and MOTHER'S DAY.
In this regard, the lo-fi FX work and clumsy choreography (some of the bashes over victims' heads are laughably unconvincing) suit proceedings very well. The rapes are non-hardcore but feature a lot of female nudity, and these women are not the toned, tanned non-entities of most modern horrors - they're flabby, pasty, and real.
As the film grinds on, it's lit up by a solid lead from Rue and a nice cameo from Debbie Rochon as her karma-centric mother (the visit to Skye's parents may or may not be an homage to MEET THE FOCKERS - probably not, but her folks certainly reminded me of the hippyish couple played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand in the latter).
Those looking to be offended can anticipate dildo rape; a mock birthday party which ends up with one victim getting fucked in her open throat wound, her assailant eventually pulling out and shooting his load over her dying face; another character getting fellated by a severed head, and more.
THE HOSPITAL 2 looks cheap, feels cheap, but gets by on a mixture of feverish energy, really quirky performances the likes of which are unusual to happen upon nowadays (Taylor's sheer presence feels very 70s, while O'Rear is Sardu's natural successor), and go-for-broke offensive set-pieces which stretch that extra mile by tossing in mean-spirited humour for extra insult.
Almost impossible to classify, and difficult to express affection towards, I however have to admit to having a good time watching THE HOSPITAL 2.
MVD Visual's region-free DVD presents the film uncut and in its original 16x9 ratio. Colours and sharpness are fine, although there's a slightly faded sheen to it at times which comes from the low-budget digital origins.
English 2.0 is generally good, though a few scenes have clearly been shot without microphones and suffer a tad as a result.
The region-free disc opens to a static main menu page. There is no scene-selection option.
Extras begin with the film's 103-second trailer, which offers a fast-moving cavalcade of images interspersed with salacious one-liners from advance reviews.
Next up is a 5-part "video diary" from O'Rear, shot on the film's shoot. Everyone seems to have had a great time filming at the Alabama locations, despite the freezing weather conditions. These amount to an enjoyably illuminating 23 minutes.
6 minutes of bloopers and outtakes mainly consist of cast members either flubbing their lines or getting the giggles.
"Inside Kenworthy/Carlisle Hall" is a worthwhile 13-minute look around the film's imposing main location. O'Rear narrates as we get a guided tour of the building, along with a host of historic details.
THE HOSPITAL 2 pushes further than its controversial predecessor. For fans of films like SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS, THE SINFUL DWARF and BLOODSUCKING FREAKS who thought they didn't make movies like those anymore, this is for you.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual|