Vancouver natives Jen and Sylvia Soska made their debut film, the provocatively titled Dead Hooker in a Trunk, for very little. The combination of crazy humour and inventive storytelling received plaudits and soon became a festival hit.
The filmmakers are generating serious buzz with American Mary, which received its world premiere at Film4 FrightFest earlier this year. Are the Soska sisters about to become the ‘Next Big Thing in Horror’? Here are five reasons why they just might be.
1. They went from zeroes to indie heroes.
Instead of daydreaming about becoming directors, the Soskas went out there and made that dream come true. Jen and Sylvia write, direct, produce and perform their own stunt work when needs must. Incredibly, they shot American Mary in fifteen days. Fifteen days!
2. They make horror with doses of dark humour.
Dead Hooker in a Trunk was released in the wake of the Grindhouse revival kick-started by Quentin Tarantino. They might have ridden the back of the current retro horror wave like surfer girls, but they had a great indie movie to hawk around. It’s a very hard task to mix horror and comedy elements together so that they work in perfect balance. The Soskas managed this high wire act with aplomb. One minute Dead Hooker will have you laughing and the next it’ll gross you out. Aesthetically, they are accomplished and demonstrated their visual flair by opening Dead Hooker with a one-take handheld tracking shot worthy of Martin Scorsese.
3. They've got the balls to take on a male-dominated genre.
The ratio between male and female directors in the industry is greatly uneven and more so in the horror genre. The Soskas are a breath of fresh air nonetheless. They’re giving a female spin on what is essentially a genre that caters to male fantasies, sometimes brutally so. Why shouldn’t horror movies have strong female characters acting outrageously?
Their brand of humour does tend toward gross-out and the offensive, but their anarchic and disarmingly sweet sensibility makes this an endearing rather than obnoxious trait. American Mary is set to get darker still and looks to discard the OTT comedy shenanigans.
4. They’re twins. Which is interesting.
Sibling filmmakers aren’t exactly new but twins are a rarity. This obviously gives Jen and Sylvia a unique selling point. They even named their production outfit ‘Twisted Twins’. As writers, producers and directors they must be seriously in tune with each other and share a common sensibility too. Brian Pearson, the cinematographer who shot American Mary, described in an online article how in sync the filmmakers were with each other on set.
5. Canada needs a new horror icon(s).
David Cronenberg hasn’t made a true horror film in donkey’s years. And it’s looking very much like he’s done with the genre. Vincenzo Natali, at one point, could have bagged the accolade but he’s a bit inconsistent.
So Canada’s next icon(s) of horror could well be Jen and Sylvia: two for the price of one. Not only that, the Soskas, with their emphasis on blood, gore and their latest film focusing on underworld plastic surgery and body horror have produced a spiritual link between Cronenberg and themselves.
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