“The goriest film since the original Fleas in 2016!” a quote attributed to no one boldly claims on the back of the DVD case for Fleas 2: Home Remedies. Now, (shockingly) I haven’t seen the original Fleas, so I can’t speak to its supposed levels of gore, but while Fleas 2 is many things, the goriest of any category it is not. Giving Evan Jacobs (director/co-star/co-writer of this two-man project) the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he meant it was the goriest film within the esteemed Fleas cinematic universe. Maybe (hopefully) it was a joke, but in case it wasn’t, Jacobs might want to take a cursory glance through the horror section on Amazon Prime or better yet see the real contenders for that title at Unearthed Films, Tetro Video or A Baroque House.
The plot (such as it is) follows Quentin (Mike Hartsfield, who also co-wrote) and Bob (Jacobs), a couple of dim bulbs that seem to have avoided the curse of total isolation through companionship with each other. Now, I should take a moment to clarify that “co-wrote” may be a bit of a stretch, as the movie appears to be not so much improved but….unscripted. Anyway, the faux-documentary style production is made up of a series of recordings that Bob makes of his friend trying to dig out an ingrown toenail with a razor, a task that gets more gruesome the longer it goes on.
Yes, that really is the entire plot of this hour long film, but within that limited scope there are actually some things that Fleas 2 pulls off really well. Chief among them is the opening shot which sets a strong tone with a self-mutilation scene that is so effectively cringe-inducing it’s sure to have you squirming in your seat. The FX are very minimal and DIY throughout, but for the most part do an admirably convincing job conveying the grotesqueness of the situation. I also appreciated how the actors managed to do a solid job creating characters that were decently fleshed out (and unsettlingly true to life) while having very little to work with.
The real problem here is that this is a unique and impressively uncomfortable ten minute film that is dragged down by fifty minutes of repetitive filler just to get it to the incredibly awkward runtime of an hour. Currently neither a short nor a feature, Fleas 2 is unquestionably made better by following through on the initial momentum of the opening scene and sparing the audience the incessant repetition of the phrase “you need to go to the doctor” and the brutally compulsive overuse of the word “dude”. If nothing meaningful is going to happen in the story then we don’t need multiple scenes of two guys picking up takeout or endlessly bickering about whether or not this particular home surgery is a good idea. An aggressively trimmed down cut would make Fleas 2 an intriguing curiosity and not the Sisyphean task of endurance that it currently is.
DVDs can be purchased directly through https://srscinemastore.com/products/fleas-2-dvd while supplies last.