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Dead Hooker in a Trunk
Review of Soska Sisters' Debut Film
It's a seldom thing to be promised something great and get exactly that. How many times has somebody recommended an album or a movie to you, and when you bring it home you're so sorely underwhelmed that you feel like pissing on the "art" and shitting on the person who raved about it? But Jen & Sylvia Soska's Dead Hooker in a Trunk is one of those infrequent articles of awesomeness that not only doesn't disappoint or piss you off, but fills you to drowning point with piss and vinegar and glee! This is a flick that's as bad ass as its title would suggest!
Now I'm all about truly Indie films, those made on the fringes of Hollywood that are financed out of pocket and, often, languish on DVD shelves before being discovered by diggers of the esoteric and rad. But the simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of low-to-no-budget films, and especially low-to-no-budget horror films, are haphazard and slapdash affairs constructed by film school flunkies with lots of A.D.D. Energy but little attention to detail or craft. Again, the Soska Sisters surprise you with this, their debut feature, by virtue not only of their kick ass story but the filmic precision of the same. These chicks dig quality, even if their monetary resources may not have been great.
To wit: From the second the company logo vanishes and we're launched into the flick proper, it is blisteringly obvious that the Sisters Soska want to wow us. And they do, with rowdiness (sure, a guy getting thrown out of a bar but not before one of our bad ass chicks slaps him on his bald head) but also with a far-above-average bit of musical score that's as rockin' as the movie, and the sort of sound design you would expect from a seasoned professional. And this is to say nothing of the subsequent hardcore punk performance and the accomplished cinematography of the same! It might seem unfair to review something positively for these merits simply because it's low-budget, but that's like saying a one-armed man shouldn't score extra points for lifting heavy weights. Of course he should! In other words, they achieved something that others have, but with half (or less) than what others had in the way of moolah.
And the goods don't stop there. Hell no! These are just the first round of blows to the ears, eyes and gut as the story begins. What is that story? And what does it have to do with a dead hooker? Best not to say too much, but let's go for the broad strokes: One of two little adolescent twin girls witnesses their abusive father accidentally shooting their mother. The little girl picks up the gun and shoots Daddy stone dead.
Cut to however many years later and the twin who snuffed out Papa Bear is in bed, waking up next to some grungy scrub, and looking none too happy about his presence. So she bites him on his wrist to roust his ass and then throws her gear on and sets off to start her day. She texts her twin sister, the sister we suspect (and we'd be wrong) of being the goodie-goodie of the pair (because she wears glasses and doesn't have any black accoutrements), and asks her to pick her up. Geek talks Bad Ass (you know who) into going to scoop up her friend Goody Two-Shoes (actual character name) from his Youth Group.
Goody Two-Shoes says things like, "We're just doing some awesome brainstorming about our next Anti-Pornography Bake Sale." Obviously he's the tough-as-sandpaper alpha-male hero! Maybe, but unlikely.
Next thing ya know Bad Ass catches fire in the Church-sponsored Youth Group and they've gotta bail, so they take off in Bad Ass's muscle car with theological ruminations on their tongue, and this is when the title of the film becomes a literal thing.
If corpse fucking- implied or otherwise- turns your stomach, then the rest of Dead Hooker in a Trunk may not bode well for you. More for the rest of us; bring on the weird goat-loving necrophiliac motel clerks and putrid shades of orange and green!
Bad Ass and Geek are sexy. Damn sexy. Great bodies. Gorgeous faces. Come hither glances. But, unlike most hot chicks in horror movies, these gals don't use their Sex Appeal just because some lecherous director told them to. They don't shake their shit simply to get off or to earn a fat paycheck. They don't do it to get a leg up. More like they do it so they can rip your leg off and beat you with it.
When Bad Ass licks your lobe you'd do well to stifle that wood because she just might use it to bludgeon you senseless!
Like Shaun of the Dead and Severance before it, Dead Hooker in a Trunk gets a lot of comedy mileage out of the very human situations one might find themselves in when dealing with a cadaver. It is decidedly darker than anything on display in a Weekend At Bernie's installment, but with just as much heart and hilarity. When the eponymous prostitute is accidentally dropped to the pavement while being carried out of a motel room, Goody Two-Shoes tells the Youth Group administrator he's talking to on his cell that, "That's just praying, we're just doing some good old-fashioned loving of the Lord."
Tis just one of the many laugh-out-loud gut-busting moments to follow. And don't get me started on a right hook that puts Rocky Balboa to shame!
Dead Hooker in a Trunk has just about everything you could want in a grindhouse-style killer roadtrip movie. It's a flick that houses chainsaw-wielding Yakuza, apple-chomping drug dealers, goats, gore and assorted goodness all under one roof, without ever once feeling like a sloppy mishmash. There are times when DHIAT seems, with its splatstick sight gags and bleak landscape, like The Doom Generation minus the bisexual coupling pre-occupation, but it is nothing if not its own movie through and through. Gregg Araki hasn't done this kind of street level gritty punk yuck-fu since The Living End and, even then, it didn't have characters as brutally hep as the Sisters Soska's Geek and Bad Ass.
The guts, gunshot wounds and blood spillage looks better than just about any first fright flick, and convincing character work from every actor involved, which helps to sell anything the slightest bit dubious, not that there is much questionable on display (unless we're talking moral boundaries, which we're not). And all I can tell ya is, if I was gonna take a bullet I'd rather it wasn't fired from Bad Ass's gun, which seems to have the ability to paint entire objects in grue like someone hurling a full can of paint.
Dead Hooker in a Trunk rates very high on the WTF Scale, with multiple Wow Moments, including a post-bloodbath face twitching, an unexpected eye gougeroo that sucker-punches us almost as hard as the impact on the offended party's skull, a flawless bit of CGI that seems way beyond the film's financial means, a verbal outburst to rock the Heavens ("Ya ever been skull-fucked after an ass-rape?!"), and hella crazy ending.
This is one dead hooker that won't run cold and won't leave you itching, except, maybe, for more Dead Hooker.