Friday, October 26, 2012

Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009) Review

Dead Hooker in a Trunk poster
Director: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Stars: Soska Sisters
Genre: Thriller, Comedy, Horror

The directorial debut from the Soska Sisters, and one with an extremely intriguing title at that. For those who don't know me, I'm the type of guy that watches films with titles like "Dead Hooker in a Trunk".

The plot follows fours friends, all nameless and all seemingly intentionally stereotypes (after all they are creditted as Badass, Geek, Druggie, and Goody Two Shoes), who suddenly discover that there is, in fact, a dead hooker in their trunk. Then, as you might expect based off their stereotypes, there is a fair amount of conflict as to how they should actually handle the situation. Shit gets crazy and there's a lot of weird stuff that happens.

Quite honestly the plot isn't anything special. It's muddled, silly, and, due to the writing, lacks a complete lack of logic. The characters are pretty poorly acted for the most part, expected from most films of this nature. The characters' continuity is also awful. One minute you have a girl calling the cops and the next she's dragging a dead body around.

There's also this weird back-story going on that's never fully developed, with the twins when they were young and killed there father. I just felt that that was a bit unnecessary.

I will say this: the second half of the film I found to be greatly better than the first. The second half just seems to do everything better.

I hated the soundtrack in the first half. It was this generic emo/metalcore stuff, which I'm sure must have been local bands. I'm all for local bands in films, I think it adds a layer of personality to a film, but here it's just bad. The second half of the film, however, actually has a soundtrack I quite enjoyed. 

Could be wrong here, but it seemed like very soothing music would play when a 'good' character is talking and much more loud, raw music would play when a 'bad' character was talking.

The dead hooker in the trunk in Dead Hooker in a Trunk

There were actually some cool scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed the scene with the power tool, or the scene where they show how the hooker died. And, of course, that awesome drop-kick part. Give me a movie with a drop-kick in it and I'll watch it. These scenes, the former two in particular, lead me to believe that the Soska Sisters do have potential.

Oh, and the religious character actually was kind of funny in the second half. He definitely went a bit crazy. Overall though it's not a very funny film; didn't get many laughs out of me.

Cinematography in here... amateur. I'm usually not a fan of films shot in digital. It can work fantastically sometimes (see Inland Empire, Lars Von Trier, Harmony Korine) but sometimes it can be really awful (see just about any found footage horror film). This film is somewhere in between the two extremes. It's not terrible. The camerawork is a bit annoying, with tons of close-ups that can get a bit headache-y.

There's a lot of shaking in the camerawork, with a kind of Dogma '95 feel. Doesn't really work here though. Dogma '95 is meant to have a film appear as close to reality as possible, but this film is just so over-the-top that I would have rather just seen some generally good cinematography. I'm sure a lot of this was due to budget limitations though, so I'll give them some slack.

A very awesome torture scene in Dead Hooker in a Trunk

There's somewhat of a religious overtone going on here. I'm not religious in any sense of the word so I kind of just zoned out on the symbolism and stuff. But that's a good thing. That's how you properly add religious themes to a film. It's there for those who want to look for it, but it's far from necessary for those who'd rather do without it. Isn't it nice when a film doesn't blatantly shove their morals down your throat? So, kudos in that regard.

The fight scenes were very realistic. As far as I could tell they were actually punching dudes in the head and stuff. Cool. There's enough blood and gore to satisfy and gorehounds, and it's pretty well done too. At times it can seem a bit silly though. For a very low budget film I must compliment their use of effects. 

The film is cheesy, but not necessarily in a good way. It's not funny cheesy or campy cheesy it's kind of just bad cheesy. It's a bit over the top but most of it is stuff we've seen before. Acting has a bit of a mumblecore feel, or I guess mumblegore in this case. I didn't find the acting to be anything special.

The Soska Sister, or the Twisted Sisters, in Dead Hooker in a Trunk

The Soska Sisters do have my interest though. And I may not have been too fond of their debut, but I'm looking forward to their future work. I can sense a very interesting style underneath it all and I'm anxious to see if it blossoms. Their second film, American Mary (2012), seems to be much more appealing and I will actually be going to see it tonight (as of this writing) and I'll have a review of it soon.

So, it's hard to recommend Dead Hooker in a Trunk. It's not great writing or plot and the first half is pretty awful. Things do pick up in the latter half of the film and manages to have its own charm. It wouldn't hurt to give it a watch, you'll definitely find some enjoyment in it. 

2/5 stars
Pros:
+Second half of the film is highly watchable
+Some very, very awesome scenes
+Pretty good effects and gore
Cons:
-Mediocre acting
-Amateur, and at times annoying, cinematography
-Meh plot & writing

Purchase Dead Hooker in a Trunk on Amazon: DVD - Stream
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