Review: Dead Hooker in a Trunk

DVD review (region 2)
Directed by Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Starring Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Rikki Gagne, C.J. Wallis
Release date Out now

Sisters “Geek” and “Badass”, along with their pals “Junkie” and “Goody Two-Shoes”, discover a dead prostitute in the trunk of their car. They ride around, trying to figure out what to do with the body, while dealing with crazed killers and violent drug dealers…

From Night of the Bloody Apes to Poultreygeist: Chicken of the Living Dead, exploitation filmmakers have long attempted to get audiences to watch bad movies by slapping on a lurid or ludicrous title. Rest assured, Dead Hooker in a Trunk is a very bad movie indeed. And rest assured, with a title like that, it won’t struggle to find an audience.

It does seem likely, however, that pretty much anyone who sets eyes on this Canadian would-be splatter comedy will be disappointed. For here we have an odd and almost entirely unsuccessful amalgamation of competing elements.

Much of the movie consists of the deeply unlikable protagonists driving or walking around, doing virtually nothing. Occasionally, a hideous speed-metal track will invade the soundtrack. At other times, the tinkling of euphoric indie rock pipes up, at which point the heroes halt yelling at each other (93% of the dialogue consists of artless swearing) to exchange faux-meaningful statements. It almost feels like a mumblecore picture at time, only populated by far more hateful, self-obsessed characters.

Every so often there’s an insertion of some extreme violence which is likely to repel the majority of navel-gazing indie flick fans, though these scenes are too infrequent to hold much appeal for gorehounds. There’s one drug deal-gone-wrong shootout (with some decent splatter effects for the budget) and one torture scene, both of which are played for semi-laughs. And then, in the final half hour, there are a couple of very nasty sequences of women being beaten up which are difficult to watch. You could argue (and indeed writer/directors/stars The Soska Sisters do on the commentary) that these scenes offer a counter to the way horror movies often gloss over the reality of violence, and instead make you actually feel for the female victims. Certainly you can’t accuse a splat-flick in which the only nudity is a mutated penis of being misogynistic. But these sudden grim scenes are so jarring with the cartoonish tone of the rest of the movie that they just feel misjudged.

But then the entire movie is misjudged. In a micro-budget movie like this, you can overlook the scrappy narrative, jerky camerawork and muffled sound – hell, you can embrace those things in an exploitation movie! But it’s so laugh-free, so inconsistent in tone and so goddam boring that it’s difficult to conceive it being much better even if it had been blessed with a Transformers-sized budget.

If you can bear to sit through the movie again, the extras include the aforementioned commentary by The Soska Sisters (the dodgy audio mix makes it difficult to hear them at times), another commentary from the producers, a short interview with special guest and star of El Mariachi Carlos Gallardo (his pointless cameo is ludicrously exaggerated, and assumes everyone in the audience will recognise him), deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage.

Matt McAllister

VERDICT: 2/10
About as welcome as – yes – a dead hooker in a trunk, this is one of the least successful grindhouse throwbacks we’ve seen of late.

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