RJ Bayley Reviews: Dead Hooker in a Trunk

Dead Hooker in a Trunk

I came to Jen and Sylvia Soska’s AKA the Soska Sisters’ debut film in the wrong order. Previously I reviewed American Mary for a past Women In Horror Month and adored it. My hopes were perhaps raised a bit too high when I came to view their previous debut 2009 film Dead Hooker in a Trunk.

The film is going for a live-action adult anime concept, but that only becomes apparent when one person mentions to another that they resemble a character from one. Perhaps alluding to this much earlier on would’ve been an effective shorthand for solving this issue, but as it stands you can’t really grab onto what the film wants to be and that’s a problem. Genres and subgenres are in many ways about managing the audience’s expectations for the rules of the story world and prescribing how they’re supposed to react to the film as much as cinematic conventions. In Dead Hooker in a Trunk the story world is a distorted version of reality, but we’re not really sure in which way it’s supposed to be. Some of this comes down to the quality of the film versus deliberately off kilter story decisions. On the one hand we’re asked to accept this world is one in which not calling the police immediately is a perfectly legitimate response to extreme circumstances like the titular one. On the other, the acting and dialogue is so bad that the thing seems like a particularly extravagant student film. This incongruity poses the dilemma: is the film’s story decisions as bad as the acting, or is the acting deliberately as B-movie as the plot is trying to be?

Unfortunately, you’ll spend most of your time wrestling with that, and not watching the film.

★★

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