Yoga Hosers may be the ultimate test of the dedication Kevin Smith’s fans have for the veteran director’s recent slew of offbeat, loosely horror-related movies. Having proven he no longer cared what critics thought with the release of Tusk, Smith now continues his so-called True North trilogy with a story about two teenage convenience store clerks who battle sentient, knee-high Nazis made out of bratwurst. That’s honestly what this film is about, and anyone hoping to find some semblance of the filmmaker’s work from his View Askewniverse days will be sorely disappointed.
Set largely at a Canadian convenience store, Yoga Hosers follows Tusk characters Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith) and Colleen Collette (Lily Rose Depp) on their first solo adventure. The girls are like any other teens, and by that I mean they are still trying to figure out who they are as people while desperately hoping for acknowledgement from their peers. A chance to spend some time with a charming upperclassmen leads the girls to close their store on a night when the owner, Colleen C’s dad, is out of town, but things go sideways fast as the Colleens’ world is turned upside down by the rise of the Bratzis. This leads the pair to uncover Canada’s tricky history with the Nazi army, and before long they discover something truly evil living just below the ground where their convenience store now sits.
While I’m sure the knee-high monsters and the mad scientist (an enjoyable turn from the often overlooked talents of Ralph Garman) behind them—who speaks using celebrity impressions so dated you’d think the film was intended for the 30 and up crowd—are sure to turn some away, they are far from the film’s most egregious error. That title falls on the storytelling itself, which makes little to no effort to justify why things are happening in the film or explain the motivations of its characters. The boy the Colleens close their store for also happens to be a serial killer, but despite several appearances from the character early in the film that idea is never introduced until the last possible minute. Likewise, the reasoning for the Bratzis to rise at this point in time versus any other moment in the decades since World War II has no explanation whatsoever. The idea that ‘sometimes things just happen’ appears to be the driving motivation behind every twist, and because of this the film lacks any sense of cohesion or tension.
What works for the film is two-fold. The first is the cast, which is led by the promising talent of Harley Quinn Smith and Lily Rose Depp. These two young women add a level of believability to even the most absurd sequences, and you really do find yourself rooting for them by the time the film begins to erupt with Smith’s wildest ideas to date. The second successful element, though to a much lesser degree, is the script. Kevin Smith has long said his talents as a writer lie primarily in dialogue, and proof of this has never been more clear than it is in this film. The quip-laden conversations add an element of tongue-in-cheek fun to a film whose action-based attempts to create entertainment often come up short.
Yoga Hosers is a film ripe with good intentions and creative flourishes that suffers greatly from a lack of taut storytelling and seemingly any desire whatsoever to establish motivations for its characters. The first 40 minutes offers next to no explanation for the film’s wild latter half, which in turn leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. I can appreciate Smith’s desire to explore ideas that have previously never been presented on the big screen, but his approach to doing so is in need of some work. It’s almost as if the New Jersey-born filmmaker is shooting his films based off first draft scripts so as to push forward with as little second guessing as possible, but lofty ideas such as those found in Yoga Hosers need more than a moment’s contemplation in order to be truly memorable. As is, Yoga Hosers feels half-baked, and for a stoner as dedicated to the green life as Smith, that’s a big letdown.