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July 2011

Dead Hooker In A Trunk

cast: Rikki Gagne, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, C.J. Wallis

directors: Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska

85 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Eureka DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by Mark West

Dead Hooker In A Trunk

Junkie (Rikki Gagne) is a rock singer in a small club and wakes up in the apartment of her friend, Badass (Sylvia Soska). Badass' twin sister Geek (Jen Soska) asks them to go and pick up her "friend who's a boy" Goody Two Shoes (C.J. Wallis) from his bible-study group. Badass agrees; on the condition that they go on to buy some drugs for Junkie afterwards. Along the way, they discover that there's a dead hooker in the trunk and very quickly find themselves targets of both a serial killer who's attacking prostitutes, and a cowboy pimp who wants his girl back.

Let's be honest, from the title alone, you know this isn't going to be a film that's attempting great art. It doesn't even succeed, for the most part, in being a well put-together film but, what it lacks in a lot of areas, it makes up for in others that point to a hopefully bright future for the Soska twins.

So what's wrong with it? For me, three key things stand out. For a start, it's too long and some scenes could have used some judicial editing (hint, if an actress looks away, because she's finished her lines, then it might be an idea to cut). Secondly, whilst not having a steadicam (or similar device) isn't necessarily a hindrance, if you're going to do a handheld tracking shot, you need to either block the scene or have a focus, because on a few occasions, the viewer is here left looking at a location rather than any of the cast. My third point would be the script - yes, I realise most of the cast are your friends, but give them a script and don't assume that everyone can ad-lib or improvise. A lot of people clearly can't.

If you accept these limitations, then the film runs quite well. The characters, as evidenced by their names, are very much stereotypes, and so are a lot of the situations, but you can see that the Soska sisters are trying to do more. The effects are typical for a low-budget production, cut quickly and with far too much blood, but they're used sparingly and that actually helps. The 'continuity' isn't; with a character doused in blood one moment, clean the next (though, to be fair, this happens all the way through Evil Dead 2 and that's now a classic).

There's a wonderful anarchic element running through it all, with huge leaps of logic that don't slow the film at all. Geek loses an eye (though I'd love to know how the killer popped it out from behind without breaking her skull), and just puts sticky tape over the orifice, and Junkie first has someone hack at her arm with a machete, before it's ripped off by a passing truck. Do they panic or take either girl to a hospital? Nope, Goody Two Shoes literally sews it back on and it's all good.

Liking this film is going to be difficult if you don't connect with it - and I'm afraid I didn't, quite - but what can't be denied is that the Soska sisters have something about them and (hoping that they spend more time on the characters and the editing) it'll be interesting to see what they come up with next.

For an obviously low-budget film, they did quite well with the extras. There are three trailers (theatrical, preview, and festival) and a discussion with Carlos Gallardo, who plays God as a taxi driver. He was El Mariachi and chats for one minute, 42 seconds. There are two deleted scenes, running about six minutes, which don't add much at all.

The making of featurette was 14 minutes long and, whilst I was hoping for an interview with the sisters, it mainly consisted of clips from the film, out-takes or B-roll footage. How were the special effects achieved, what locations were used - all that could have been introduced, though in the end, the highlight is a quick shot, showing that Mum Soska was wearing the killer's hoodie at one point. A bit of a missed opportunity there...

There are two commentaries, a director's one, and a production/ technical one, where the sisters were joined by actor/ photographer/ special effects man C.J. Wallis. Both are interesting, full of anecdotes and amusing stories but both suffered with one of the girls sitting too far away from the microphone to be heard clearly. This is not a film that's going to be enjoyed by everyone, but a marker for things to come.



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