Film Review: Dead Hooker In A Trunk

Posted on February 24, 2010 by Deaditor 2 Comments


Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009)
Directed by:
Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska
Cast: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Ricki Gagne, C J Wallis
Review by: Ben Bussey

It sounds straight away like the set-up to a joke, so I might as well do the synopsis as such…

So there’s these twin sisters. One of them’s a badass, and one of them’s a geek. The badass has a BFF who’s a junkie, whilst the geek is chummy with a goody-two shoes who pounds the bible and volunteers at a church youth group. Whilst neither duo wants much to do with the other, they find themselves stuck with each other after all four of them discover in the badass’s car… guess what… a dead hooker in the trunk.

The second and final feature film shown at the Ghouls On Film festival, Dead Hooker In A Trunk is every bit as self-consciously quirky as it sounds, from the absence of character names to the abundance of implausible twists, and the inescapable novelty of it being written, produced, and directed by real life identical twins, who also play the lead roles. Knowing their film would have eccentricity on its side by proxy, they clearly decided the only way to go would be to pile on the craziness and stuff in as much as they could, crafting a grindhouse-ish collage of buddy comedy, pulp crime, and occasional ultraviolence. The resulting movie is a decidedly mixed bag, bound to inspire mixed feelings.

Let’s get the negative aspects out of the way. First off, Dead Hooker In A Trunk suffers the most common ailments of no-budget DV filmmaking: often terrible sound and picture quality. The constantly roving handheld camerawork gets off-putting pretty quick (or maybe that’s just me and my low tolerance for motion sickness). There are way too many plot developments which are simply lazy and unconvincing – God only knows why the first thing the group decide to do after discovering the corpse is get a motel room, for instance. While the intent might be knowing, ironic absurdity, it often comes off as forced and unnatural, particularly in the moments when a darker, more serious mood is attempted. It’s commendable that the Soskas are trying to defy convention and keep the audience on their toes, but it isn’t enough to maintain audience interest for the duration, particularly as the movie feels at least fifteen/twenty minutes overlong.

But now let’s counteract that with a look on the bright side. And it has to be said, in spite of those complaints, there’s a lot to be said in favour of Dead Hooker In A Trunk. While the script could undoubtedly have benefitted from some fine-tuning, the Soskas clearly have a good ear for catchy dialogue, and they’re not half bad at delivering it either (ditto their co-stars Gagne and Wallis). They also have a good eye for action. The abundant fight scenes are shot in a largely convincing and involving manner, and there are a number of real ‘what-the-fuck’ moments, mostly involving Sylvia Soska: at one point she’s lassooed and dragged down the road by a man on horseback, in another she literally flies through the air and kicks a guy over with both feet. These and other such moments (particularly a spectacular vehicle-related dismemberment) are enough to leave you shaking your head in disbelief wondering how the hell they did it. On which note, getting Carlos ‘El Mariachi’ Gallardo to do a cameo was a very nice touch; after all, his most famous film pretty much wrote the book for modern, action-oriented filmmaking on a microbudget.

Somehow, when contemplating Dead Hooker In A Trunk I’ve found myself reminiscing on House Of 1000 Corpses. The overall feeling I got from Rob Zombie’s debut was that there were plenty of good ideas in there, and it might have all worked if only the director had been more disciplined, trimmed the fat, and carved out a more coherent feature film. Much the same is true here. And if Zombie warranted a second shot, I’d certainly say the Soska sisters do too. They may be trying a little too hard here, but that’s a minor offence considering so many no-budget indies of this ilk don’t seem to try at all. These are clearly filmmakers of potential, and I certainly hope we’ll be seeing more from them in the future, so long as they can learn from the mistakes made here, come up with some sharper scripts, and of course get a better camera with a decent boom mike. Check this movie out if you get the chance, and remember the names Jen and Sylvia Soska; I suspect we’ll be hearing of them again.

Trailer:

2 comments

  • Paul says:

    Problem with Zombie is, even with a second and third chance, he still proved that he is a glorified video director; a coherent feature film that fires on more than one level (gratuitous) is beyond him.

    As far as Dead Hooker in a Trunk, the title sounds like a really fucked up Dr. Seuss book. I would watch it for that alone. Also, Ricki Gagne? Way to steal my name, asshole.

  • Ben (author) says:

    I’m not about to suggest that Zombie HAS improved; I just mean that he showed the potential to do so from his first feature. I gather the consensus view is that he’s utterly failed to live up to that promise, but as I still haven’t braved Halloween 2 I can’t necessarily concur.

    On this evidence, the Soska sisters have a way better grasp of character and pacing. Give them the resources Zombie had on the Halloween movies, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d come up with something better. (I’m not damning with faint praise by saying that.)

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