Search this blog and The Mike's favorite blogs!

July 17, 2010

Dead Hooker in a Trunk

2009, Dir. by Jen & Sylvia Soska.

It seems like it's far too often that I sit down with an independent horror or action film and end up wondering if I missed some inside joke that the filmmakers and their friends thought was hilarious and wonderful. These are films that I can tell weren't meant to be taken too seriously, but at the same time I find myself bored with them - usually because they're trying too hard to be witty or stylish or cool or some combination of the above. So when a film called Dead Hooker in a Trunk crossed my path, I must admit I was a little wary of falling into that same trap. Thankfully, this film - by Twisted Twins Productions' Jen & Sylvia Soska - seems to have been made with a genuine interest in pleasing fans of grindhouse cinema. Because the sisters seem to understand what the viewer would want in a film of this sort, Dead Hooker in a Trunk kind of kicks ass.

The sisters Soska (who wrote, directed, and starred in the film) offer up a foul-mouthed roller coaster of a flick, but also speak to the fact that no film can survive on blood and style alone. They lead with the macguffin that becomes the title and appear set on shocking the viewer with the antics that follow. Both twins end up bloodied and beaten several times throughout the film, and most of their co-stars (led by Rikki Gagne as their junkie friend and CJ Wallis as a goody-two shoes choir boy) suffer similar fates. But there's much more to the film than just the violence and the splatter-filled gags.

While focusing on those shocks, the sisters command respect with their handling of the film. This could easily have turned into one of those films where most scenes exist to fill time around a few big gags the director loved - an independent version of a Michael Bay film, if you will - but the Soskas never fail to fill the lulls between the bloody encounters the characters continue to stumble into. The script focuses on the rocky relationship between the estranged sisters and Wallis' character's moral/religious dilemmas whenever it gets a chance, and they all show enough skill as actors to keep these characters fresh despite the fact they're never named and are drawn from simple stereotypes.

I'm almost shocked to say how much I enjoyed Dead Hooker in a Trunk. It never feels raw, despite the fact that it's the Vancouver-based directors' first film; and only a few brief moments seemed to go too far over-the-top for my tastes. It lives up to its sensational title with huge helpings of B-movie goodness, but is also grounded by some poetic moments. A mid film cameo from El Mariachi star Carlos Gallardo is just one of the moments that shows the viewer how much these young women love what they're doing as independent filmmakers.

Dead Hooker in a Trunk could have fallen flat, but it's easy to see that the Soskas and company believed in their film and were not willing to cut corners. Like Robert Rodriguez and other renegade filmmakers that came before them, they take steps to ensure that their love of guerrilla cinema shines through the film's cracks. The result is a rare kind of flick with great pacing, a genuine sense of humor, and buckets upon buckets of groovy blood; and it's one that will stay memorable to me and will keep me interested in seeing what the Twisted Twins have up their sleeve in the future. Kudos to them, because Dead Hooker in a Trunk should make any lover of cult cinema proud.

4 comments:

Planet of Terror said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Planet of Terror said...

Awesome review Mike. I too have the same worry with a lot of indie horror films lately. Like some friends just got together, cracked open a case of beer and shot a film filled with in-jokes. And although I'm sure that's part of the 'spirit' of independent filmmaking, for the most part, a lot of them just fall flat.

The Soska sisters on the other hand know and wear their influences proudly while making something thats both fun and unique. One of the best films horror films of 2010.

Sadako said...

I think I have to watch this for the title alone! :)

The Mike said...

@Cortez - Thanks man! I have to admit I feel kind of bad at how I felt about indie horrors a while back, but the few I've seen have each been game changers.

@Sadako - If you love the title, you'll love the flick. Hope you enjoy!