The latest in a line of feature-length movies produced and directed by Kevin Smith, Yoga Hosers first graced the big screen in 2016. A somewhat ridiculous film in its embrace of hokey villains known as Bratzis (Bratwurst Nazis filled with sauerkraut), the film doesn’t take itself too seriously while exploring elements of the horror genre. Yoga Hosers is fun, kind of trippy, film that allows unusual characters to fill heroic rolls. The Colleen Coalition, featuring Lily-Rose Depp as Colleen C. and Harley Quinn Smith as Colleen M, is composed of two apathetic teenagers who make no apologies for their attitudes or actions. The Colleens are not your average final girls. They aren’t the determined Laurie Strode (Halloween), the badass Ellen Ripley (Alien), or the hard to kill Sidney Prescott (Scream), but they are final girls- they make it to the end after surviving their encounter with the big bad, a feat many of the men in the film were unable to mimic. Yoga Hosers approaches a deconstructive horror narrative by epitomizing the heroes as everything heroes, traditionally, should not be.
The Colleens don’t go anywhere without each other, even making joint journeys to the bathroom- a fact which horrifies the detective Guy LaPointe. Their impenetrable friendship also features ever-present sidekicks: their phones. The phones are part of the teenagers’ identities, whenever their phones are taken away the reaction is an over the top outpour of anxiety. Colleen M. even faints when hers is taken away by their gym teacher. The Colleens are a part of “Generation why me?” according to the same gym teacher, and a lot of the adults around them comment on their phone addiction. At one point the film pushes this further as the two Colleens text over an adult lecturing them, their texts are visible on screen and it creates a comedic effect. In this way their youth and connection to modern culture (including technology) is made fun of, but the film also validates their phone use.
Despite always being called out by adults throughout the film for their overdependence on modern technology, when the Colleens are without their phones it leads to a conflict and final battle with the villains. Early in the film the Colleens meet with Guy Lapointe to discuss the recent string of murders. Throughout the scene both their phones and a visible sign that prohibits phone use are shown. One could assume, because of this scene and other signals in the film, that Smith is mocking modern day teenagers. However, towards the end of the film it turns out that their youth, their addiction to tabloids and cell phones, are what makes them special to the Adronicus Arcane, the villain. The fact that they are without their phones leads an upset, climaxing in Arcane’s command to his living horror sculpture to kill the critics which is then followed by the monster’s destruction of its father and pursuit of the Colleens. This scene also takes a second to mock Guy LaPointe’s lack of modern technology, and it suggests that dependence on technology- especially for apathetic teenage girls, may be more complex than it is often thought to be.
Cell Phones aren’t the only strength of young Depp and Smith’s yoga hosers. Yoga, or what is interpreted as yoga in the film, becomes a weapon. The Colleens practice yoga regularly at Yogi Bayer’s studio, even being referred to as Lulu and Lemon by their principle. In fact, the yoga studio is their most frequented location in the film, other than the Eh 2 Zed. Yoga is made fun, as is apparent in its introduction with the first position shown on screen being identified as ‘pretentious frog’. The pose may be real, but the name is not, and works to identify the practice of yoga as something that’s become associated with a particular attitude and level of pretention identified in modern day yoga for fitness.
Many of the yoga poses are misnamed, like ‘pretentious frog’, but ‘warrior one’ and ‘warrior two’ are correctly identified and through the course of the film become their weapons as warriors against evil, or Bratwurst Nazis. The girls are constantly referred to in the phrase “damn yoga hosers,” and it seems many of the adults around them are not that supportive of their practice. Despite any associations of yoga, and the type of person who practices yoga, the two Colleens relentlessly defeat their enemies through the stylized practice. For them, yoga doesn’t make them weak but instead empowers them. They live the yoga way, which in this case requires overcoming enemies and fighting against their own victimization. At no point, no matter the best attempts of others, do they become victims in this film. They retain autonomy and control of their bodies. It’s fun to think about the fact that yoga is based in body control, and despite in jokes made at the practice’s expense, the Colleens utilize it to maintain that control and independence. Colleen M. refuses to let a teenage boy have his way with her body, and both girls refuse to be defeated by the Bratzis. In fact, it is only men who are victimized in this film, not the women- an unusual trend for a genre that often throws minorities and women under the proverbial killer bus first.
Two girls who hate work, think everything’s “basic,” and in general are portrayed as bratty teenagers, become heroes. Their faults are what make them capable of heroic acts and despite ending up in the famous people are just like you page of their favorite tabloid, “Them,” they maintain their emotionless façade for their posed picture. At the end of the day they survive, they defeat the bad guy, and they maintain control. All things finals girls have, historically, been capable of. They do it a little differently though, one could even say they do it the yoga way, but one probably wouldn’t.
by Lily Bailey
Lily is working on her MA in English at The University of Alabama where she studies queer Victorian women and old letters. A sometimes poet and always film critic, she loves to talk about the art of film adaptation and cats. She can be found on twitter @lilybethbailey.
Categories: Feminist Criticism