Dead Hooker in a Trunk

UK DVD release date: 23rd May 2011
Certificate: 18 (TBC)
Running time: 92 mins
Director: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Starring: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Rikki Gagne, C.J Wallis
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
UK distributor:  Bounty Films
Country: Canada

With the introduction of digital recording the amount of independent films in production have increased as costs have dropped, gone are the days of shooting on 16MM stock with all the lighting and sound problems let alone the cost.  The emergence of social networking sites you are no longer witness to simply what’s on offer from your own neck of the woods or the products that break through on to the global market.  Sometimes you stumble across something just as it’s exploding and sometimes it’s worth trawling through the mediocrity to unearth these gems.

After a heavy night out at a friends rock gig two sisters set out on their daily errands with one little difference to everyday life; instead of a spare tire and perhaps an old raincoat they seem to have a dead hooker in their trunk.

The first thing that usually lets down low budget cinema is typically the cinematography, many suffer from unseasoned and uncertain helmers making it almost impossible to truly engage with the subject matter at hand.  Delightfully, this is not the case with Dead Hooker in a Trunk, the Soska sisters have known their way around a camera for years and in Jen and Sylvia you have two directors who are confident, intelligent and cine-literate enough to be able to transform the idea of how the film should look to the screen.  The opening tracking shot from the streets of Vancouver across the road, upstairs and into the nightclub is effortless and beautiful; reminiscent of Brian De Palma at his very best or Alfred Hitchcock during his experiment in the long take with Lifeboat or Rope.  Experience tells you that this is not effortless and even to attempt such a rich cinematic technique shows the caliber of directing prowess that is on display.  Likewise during several scenes throughout the film the editing process is either heightened or reined in with the intention of either stitching the audience into the fabric of the film or forcing them to confront something uncomfortable or awkward and each time the tone is just right.  Rarely is such understanding of the effects of the editing process is so well understood by directors who aren’t what you would call seasoned professionals.

The soundtrack is great, it provides the stable diet of rock that you would expect and demand from your horror but it’s also clever and uses the mood of the score to highlight moments of interpretation and contrasts.  One particularly heavy assault is contrasted wonderfully with a soft emotive score you will recognize and will be happy to hear it used in a way that wouldn’t necessarily spring to mind but doesn’t retract from the piece.  C.J Wallis’ composition of the main theme plus that of the Cowboy Pimp (oh yes a Cowboy Pimp) is great and adds the extra quality in production that all indie titles need, his performance as Goody Two-Shoes is also worth mentioning as he’s great in the thankless prude role but delivers the goods wonderfully and brings forward echoes of some of the conservative characters in early John Waters films, mustering some of the deepest belly laughs.

Another surprising factor of the film is just how well acted it is.  There simply isn’t a week link.  Jen Soska is great (as the Geek) level headed and tender at times and at others fierce and protective and carries the films voice of reason wonderfully, likewise Sylvia as the Badass has a ruthless streak of a person on the edge of oblivion but with a soft side that’s being stifled with drugs and bravado.  It would be easy to overwrite these slight glimpses of their personalities but it plays out in glances and micro seconds and is reassuringly unlaboured.  Rikki Gagne’s performance is perhaps the most interesting as her Junkie is a glimpse at Badass a few years on who is deeper down the drugs rabbit hole but softer from the lack of child hood trauma and is the middle ground between sisters and brings to the film experience from projects like Supernatural and The 4400.

No good horror is complete without some genuinely enjoyable violence that flirts with the ridiculous and Dead Hooker in a Trunk is no exception.  There are some remarkably memorable gore and uber violence scenes.  The toilet disembroiling shows just enough for it to be difficult yet enjoyable but stops short of jumping the shark, which can’t be said for a lot of other films.  Rikki Gagne’s unfortunate double is great, not happy with having her attacked with a chainsaw she later has an incident with a motor vehicle that’ll leave you laughing with sheer shock.  This is perhaps the most ambitious set pieces of the film and works extremely well giving the film one of those trailer pleasing moments that audiences will love.

They made it low budget
and it's fucking awesome
It’s a genuine surprise to see an independent horror film that doesn’t over rely on the twelve pints of blood and shock treatment in order to find an audience and gather some steam.  Instead Dead Hooker in a Trunk relies on the narrative, the direction of the Soska’s and it’s performers to raise it above the standards of most horror films that make it to the multiplexes.  It’s therefore not surprising that Eli Roth is a huge fan of the sisters and their work, nor is it a surprise that Bounty Films is giving Dead Hooker a UK DVD release.  If you’re looking for a glimpse into the future but at the same time the glorious past of horror then you simply have to watch DHIAT and marvel at the advanced abilities of Jen and Sylvia Soska, the greatest horror discovery since I found that dead hooker in my trunk.










Dead Hooker in a Trunk will play at the Movie Bar during Season 4.


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