Review: Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #754

Number of Views: One
Release Date: April 20, 2009
Sub-Genre: Exploitation/Black Comedy
Country of Origin: Canada
Budget: $2,500
Running Time: 92 minutes
Directors: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Producers: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Loyd Bateman, Donald Charge, Agnes Soska, Marius Soska, Mary Ann Van Graven
Screenplay: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Special Effects: Alyssa Satow, Katie Satow
Visual Effects: C.J. Wallis
Cinematography: Loyd Bateman, C.J. Wallis
Score: C.J. Wallis
Editing: C.J. Wallis
Studios: IndustryWorks Pictures, Twisted Twins Productions, FortyFPS Productions
Distributor: IFC
Stars: Rikki Gagne, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, C.J. Wallis, Carlos Gallardo, Loyd Bateman, Farley M. Gagne, Tasha Lee Moth, John Tench

Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] The Awkward Stage “Heaven Is For Easy Girls”

[2] Fake Shark-Real Zombie! “Jewelry”

[3] Adam Nanji “Won’t Get You Know”

One thing Jen & Sylvia Soska could never be accused of is false marketing. Shot on digital and for virtually nothing at all, their 2009 debut feature Dead Hooker in a Trunk boasts one dead hooker in a trunk and harks back to the vintage Grindhouse exploitation flicks of the seventies in a manner nothing less than sincere. It’s unashamedly eccentric, often to the point of outright absurdity, and makes no attempt to disguise that it is nuttier than a squirrel’s turd. But it’s also an accomplished first time effort from a pair who have since gone on to consolidate their position amongst the horror industry’s most treasured commodities and a tremendous achievement in grass-roots filmmaking.

Essentially a road movie at heart, Dead Hooker in a Trunk tells the tale of four travel companions who, it will come as no great surprise to learn, discover a dead hooker in the trunk of their black Camaro. It’s not all bad news as there are also a string of anal beads and bag of drugs stored within their mobile meat locker. However, the stone cold stiff they could certainly do without.

To be fair, the ho in question is still luke-warm to the touch, and an autopsy may well reveal her to still possess a faint pulse. But, with the last night’s events somewhat fuzzy and no cue as to how this particular dead hooker wound up in their trunk, it’s deemed time for some serious damage limitation detail.

The quartet in question comprise tattooed tearaway Badass (Sylvia Soska), her slightly more conservative identical twin Geek (Jen Soska), bestie and slave to the rave Junkie (Rikki Gagne), and holier than thou bleeding heart Goody Two-Shoes (C.J. Wallis), who they’ve just picked up from his church youth group. Badass and Geek may have once topped and tailed in a gestation sac but that’s where the common ground ends; as they disagree as though it were fetish and don’t for a second endorse one another’s life choices. One such bone of contention is Goody Two-Shoes, who appears to have had a stale baguette secured in the spot where his spine should be.

Clearly a virgin, quite possibly a closet homosexual, and most likely backed-up with so much unspent sperm that he could fuel their joyride out of Vancouver, Goody Two-Shoes doesn’t do well with the sight of blood and spews up his stomach lining at the merest mention of anything even vaguely unpleasant. In fairness, Junkie too has been known to hurl too on occasion, but only to make way for her next hit. Should she wake up tweaking in a bathtub come sunrise, then Junkie will consider this a lay-in and set her alarm for two hours earlier the following evening. As you’ve no doubt sussed by now, they’re hardly the tightest of units. But there’s nothing like finding a dead hooker in the trunk to help an unlikely group like this bond.

Straight off the bat, there appear two options available to them. Either they inform the authorities of their unwanted fifth wheel and attempt to explain their way out of taking the rap or bury this bitch in an unmarked grave in the woods before she can start to turn.

However, the thing about finding a dead hooker in the trunk is that, while only her regulars and pimp daddy are likely to miss her, it’s uncommon for a hooker to crawl into the trunk of a Camaro and die without assistance. That means someone is no doubt keeping tabs on their every false move and preparing to cram four more dead bodies in the trunk (while making away with the ass pearls as they were never supposed to be part of the deal and could do with a rinse off).

Regrettably for our four unwitting hooker-sitters, this fresh addition is something of a bad luck charm and their travels introduce them to all manner of undesirables. From a necrophiliac motel owner whose pet Billy Goat looks worryingly fetching in bright red lipstick, to a band of chainsaw-wielding triads with the worst kind of separation issues, a truck driver who really should have splashed some water on his face at the last service stop, and a lasso-happy whoremonger on horseback. Just the usual suspects then. That’s not to mention the sick fuck responsible for the excess cargo and peril by no means mild appears to be waiting for the group at every conceivable pit-stop.

In the world of Badass, Geek, Junkie, and Goody Two-Shoes, a miniscule detail like having your eyeball excised by way of rear view baseball bat or your arm plucked from its socket by a passing eighteen wheeler is little more than a bummer and nothing some duct tape and a tube of crazy glue won’t soon patch up. The Soska’s are disinterested with the usual parameters of storytelling and, moreover, raise a brace of middle digits to walking the line like every other chump in a pair of shit kickers. This is their world and therefore their rules, so good luck guessing where shit is headed next as inevitability evidently makes their tits itch and I could kiss them with tongue for that.

What they do is introduce one character we adore instantly (Junkie), one who we cherish fearfully (Badass), one who has us stroking our chin pensively (Geek), and another who we learn not to desire only to thump in the kidney (Goody Two-Shoes) and request only that we simply hang out some. Others may fade in-and-out of our peripheral (including Grindhouse God El Mariachi or Carlos Gallardo as he reluctantly answers to), but Dead Hooker in a Trunk is all about that group dynamic and manages to sneak up on us when we least expect it. The ability to subvert expectations at will is something of a USP of the Soskas and they achieve that here by ramraiding the road movie rule book for a little old thing called heart.

Astonishingly we care, miraculously our heartstrings tug, inexplicably the dead hooker in the trunk does her life’s greatest service through death as it’s her stowaway antics that made this all possible in the first place. By the umpteenth time Goody Two-Shoes has surrendered his can of Monster; we’re far more prone to dabbing his chin with our hankies. By the third time we’ve watched Badass perform a flying kick on surface villains; we know just about where the splash zone ends so we can remain within it. By the time Geek reminds us that she’s identikit where it matters; we’re prepared to hold onto her bifocals for safekeeping. By Junkie’s thousandth adorable mannerism; we just want to cradle her in our arms like a tweak-head does pharmaceuticals. And if that little foursome doesn’t give you an attack of the warm fuzzies; then they even throw a pug-faced pooch in for good measure.

Dead Hooker in a Trunk upsets every last one of the odds stacked against it by finding relevance amidst an ocean of irreverence. Wash away the surface grime and you’re left with a slick four-wheeler which doesn’t give a fuck as to end coordinates is as it understands the rules of the road well enough to appreciate the journey getting there. Inside this ride are a Badass and a Geek – demonstrating the true power of sisterhood, a Junkie – serving as a reminder of friendship, and a Goody Two-Shoes – because there’s still time for a quick stolen kiss if he just gargles a little mouthwash beforehand. Last, but by no means whatsoever least, there’s a dead hooker in the trunk – and everything else is just a bonus.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10

Grue Factor: 3/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Given the microscopic kitty at their disposal, what the Twisted Twins manage to conjure up in this department would explain precisely how they got their name. There’s plenty messy about Dead Hooker in a Trunk and I can almost hear them now bickering over who gets to shoot the next blood geyser. Meanwhile, Sylvia is kind enough to parade around briefly in nothing more than black skimpies and, when you do the math, this is something of a two-for-one deal. Now that’s what I call prudent.

Read American Mary Appraisal
Read See No Evil 2 Appraisal
Read Death Proof Appraisal
Read Hobo With a Shotgun Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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