“So this car is purgatory.” – Rikki Gagne as Junkie
Often times when I watch a film, I find myself looking beyond what is obvious on screen and imagining a hidden meaning that lies within (or beyond) the confines of the performance. At face value, Jen and Sylvia Soska’s Dead Hooker in a Trunk is simply an homage to grindhouse filmmaking and an extension of the types of films they love. Beginning as an underfunded film school project and fueled by their unhappiness with the acting roles they were being offered, the Twisted Twins expanded on their original faux trailer idea and an underground cult film was born.
So begins one of the most thoughtful and explorative reviews of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK ever by the strikingly insightful and well read, JG Hanks of thewatcherscouncil.com. What you may or may not know about Jen and me is that we have always had religion in our lives. We have gone to our Roman Catholic Church of St. Stephen's Parish - which happily donated their location, parishioners' homes, and their time in support of us creating our flick - and were the first female altar servers in Western Canada. I find religion, all religions, endlessly fascinating and it has played a part in our lives for a very long time.
When it came time to create a premise to catapult our story for DEAD HOOKER, we decided on religious undertones, but not the cram it down your throat kind. If you want to seek deeper meaning, by all means, it's there. If you just want to turn your brain off and laugh at insanity for 92 minutes, we have got your covered there too. For those seeking God in the frames, it starts with a fire and ends with a fire - and all sorts of personal turmoil or purgatory as suggested by Junkie early on in the film - before the final conclusion, the end, and maybe even redemption for the seriously flawed characters.
For me, the true meaning of the film starts when Badass (Sylvia Soska) catches her arm on fire at the church while picking up Goody Two Shoes (CJ Wallis) for her sister Geek (Jen Soska). The preacher presiding over the church quickly puts out the fire and everyone in the Badass party (Badass, Geek, Junkie, Goody Two Shoes) leaves after a bit of sexual tension between said preacher and Badass. Now here is where things start getting interesting. Everyone at this point pretty much dislikes each other. Geek and Goody Two Shoes (CJ Wallis) are friends but nothing else; Goody Two Shoes thinks Badass and Junkie (Rikki Gagne) are complete sinners; Geek resents Junkie and Badass for their lifestyles and Junkie and Badass think Goody Two Shoes and Geek are lame. This is a very important dynamic for the meaning I am about to explore.
After leaving the church and the incident with the fire, the dialogue veers towards What If? scenarios and Junkie begins her explanation of what could be. Her theory is that the car they are riding in is purgatory and Goody Two Shoes and Geek haven’t experienced enough in life for the man upstairs to pass judgment on them. Well next thing you know, they find the title character of the film in the trunk and all logic hits the fan.
Personal redemption is a great interest of mine. I find too often that there is an onslaught of judgement that goes hand in hand with religion and many would rather (Matthew 7:3) "look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in (their) own eye" which sours the same religion that teaches (Matthew 22:39) "love your neighbor as yourself." But maybe it's an issue of self-loathing? I think it's easy to target the flawed and damn them which is why I prefer my antagonists to be seriously flawed because that's what real people are like. Are they terrible, unforgivably damned people? That's something we wanted to explore within this flick.
The cool thing is that people do pick up on it. JG goes into excerpts from the Bible to dream analysis - of greater meaning I was completely unaware in the examples of losing an eye and losing an arm.
"Because purgatory is somewhat of a dream state, we can resort to dream analysis for answers. According to said analysis, “To dream that you have one eye indicates your refusal to accept another viewpoint. It suggests that you are one-sided in your ways of thinking.” If you want to go back to religious reference, Matthew 5:29 of the New International Version of the Bible says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Geek has lost her right eye because she can only see her sister and Junkie in one light. This one-sided way of thinking is preventing her from having a solid relationship with Badass, as well as Junkie, thus preventing her ascent away from the confines of purgatory.
Dream analysis also states, “To dream that your arm has been injured, signifies your inability to care for yourself or your helplessness in reaching out to others. You may have been feeling limited and restricted in terms of your freedom or activities. The right arm signifies your outgoing nature and is associated with masculine energy, while your left arm signifies your supportive or nurturing nature and is associated with feminine qualities. Losing either arm may suggest that you are failing to recognize its respective characteristics.” Matthew 5:30 of the New International Version of the Bible is again suggestive, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” With Junkie losing her right arm, she has lost her ability to take care of herself, but more importantly, shows her ineptitude in reaching out to others. Without being able to show compassion and trying to establish a relationship with the others in her group, Junkie is also doomed. It seems that her drug addiction may, to no one’s surprise, have an underlying cause."
Now, I'm not going to spoil the entire break down and interpretation because you really ought to, boys and girls, follow this link to the page and read the entire thing. Feed your brain with smartness. I will say that I really enjoyed reading this article and loved the breakdown. If you are expecting the IFC Midnight release of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK we do talk about the religious undertones we put here and there into the flick in our director's commentary as well as talking about what it was like to make a film for $2500, with a group of friends, a shit ton of crazy ideas, and the homage to the style that created the indie gem, EL MARIACHI.
Thank you to JG for writing this awesome piece. I loved it so much - I just read it out to my parents. My mom had already read it -she's cool like that. Thank you to everyone who has been supporting this flick, telling their friends, posting reviews, writing blogs, tweeting it up, giving a Facebook status, ordering the DVD, and being just sensational supporters of the flick. You give life to an independent flick like this, so thank you for the bottom of my heart.
We've been working hard on the next one, just for you lovely people.