#MissMUFF: The Soska Twins
#MissMUFF is our newest monthly feature. Think of it sort of like one of those wall calendars but instead of a different cute kitten for each month, we're highlighting a badass woman in film. Way better than kittens!
The Soska Twins: Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska
Directors, Writers, Producers
Dead Hooker In A Trunk, American Mary, See No Evil 2, Vendetta
Drive, determination, and dedication are just a few traits one must possess when turning dreams into a reality. With those traits fully mastered, identical twin sisters, Jen and Sylvia Soska took their taste for the macabre and their love for filmmaking and started leaving a trail of bodies, blood, and pure insanity in their dreams’ wake— cinematically of course. Thusly, the start of Twisted Twins Productions arose to the silver screen.
The Soska Sisters, affectionately dubbed as “The Twisted Twins” burst out onto the independent horror film scene with American Mary, starring horror icon Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, 88, TV’s Hannibal). The film follows a medical student who comes to realize that the doctors she idolizes and strives to be are all hiding behind a façade of smoke and mirrors. It causes Mary to grow disenchanted with the world of surgery she invested so much of herself in. As a result, Mary finds herself dabbling dangerously in a darker world, surrounded by beautiful artists within the body mod community. However, she is left with more scars on herself than some of her clientele.
I feel that American Mary finds the viewer more than the viewer finds the film. It found me during a very difficult time in my life, personally and creatively. I had lost hope in horror and did not have faith that it would ever be what I thought it was before and what I grew up on. I felt disconnected from everything that I loved about horror. I could not find a "horror" film that resonated with me like Ginger Snaps had several years prior. Then, I stumbled upon American Mary and I felt like the horror genre was calling me to come home, so to speak. It is a film that is made by horror fans for horror fans. I think that any horror film enthusiast, or someone who was raised on horror films, would connect with “Mary Mason” of American Mary on a very personal, dark, yet empowering, level. The beauty behind American Mary is that the main character is so multi-layered—you go on a macabre journey, viewing as each layer of Mary is stripped away. I truly cannot say enough about American Mary.
Another belief I hold strongly—not only with regard to film, but to life—is the concept of not categorizing or putting labels on anything, especially art. I find that often times, people want to put a label on a film. They ask “Ok, so what is it? Is it a comedy? A horror? A romance?” and I get so irked. In my opinion, a film like American Mary does not need to be confined, defined, and subjected to a label. The beauty behind the film is that it is an art house piece which is multi-layered and covers multiple genres. It does not fit into a predetermined, preconceived notion of what "horror" is. It is problematic that most people associate horror only with slasher films when they are so much more than that. American Mary is not just a horror film. It is a psychological, suspenseful thriller with horror elements. It is a character driven art house piece with horror elements. It has gore but is also beautifully presented. It defies labels and that is what makes it iconic.
However, American Mary was not the beginning for Twisted Twins Productions. Twisted Twins Productions was officially and gracefully birthed in 2008. Before American Mary, they gave us a love letter to grindhouse cinema with their film Dead Hooker in a Trunk in 2009. The film follows four unlikely friends on their journey to figure out what to do with the body of a hooker that mysteriously appears in the trunk of their car while they are out running some errands (ahem, picking up drugs and their friend goody-two shoes from youth group).
Imagine The Breakfast Club gang on a getaway adventure with “Stuntman Mike” from Deathproof, except that he’s a Cowboy Pimp, and then add a goat, a douchebag motel manager, blood, gore, guts, guns, God, a dead hooker, and phrases like “asshat,” “fist fucker,” and “skull-fucked.” THAT is Dead Hooker in a Trunk.
What makes Dead Hooker in a Trunk so awesome? The production value. Now, I am not saying it is the best movie in the world, but for a first feature film with a budget of only $2,500, the production value is quite the achievement. It is a feature length film with a variety of locations, lots of speaking roles, and a great soundtrack. To make a film for $2,500 is no easy feat, but Dead Hooker In A Trunk shows that Twisted Twins Productions believes in bringing a great team of people together and utilizing what is available in order to create a film that is more than entertaining. Oh, did I mention that Jen and Sylvia did their own stunts? They sure did! (You can listen to the directors’ commentary online here and here).
In more recent years, Jen and Sylvia have worked with WWE Studios. The collaboration has brought back to life Jacob Goodnight in See No Evil 2 and has given us an action flick directed by the sisters, Vendetta.
See No Evil 2 follows a group of friends who surprise Amy (Danielle Harris) on her birthday by planning a party for her at the hospital where she is working. Everything is all hunky dory until the supposed dead body of murderous killer, Jacob Goodnight, is found to be missing. In addition, the story tells the inner turmoil of Jacob Goodnight as he tries to play the hand of God in ensuring no evil is seen and no evil goes unpunished, all the while terrorizing the birthday party attendees.
If you are in the mood for a fun ‘80s throwback slasher that is a nod to Halloween II, I highly recommend the See No Evil 2. The story is captured in such a beautiful way through the technical camera work. If you are a lighting nerd or a cinematography geek like myself, then be sure to pay attention. I also have to give props to the stunt coordinator, Kimani Ray Smith because the kills in the film are executed flawlessly. And if you’re looking for added viewing fun, I also recommend taking a shot each time Jacob Goodnight crashes through a door or any other obstacle.
What more can these lovely ladies do? Lots more! In the summer of 2014, I had the pleasure of witnessing the Soska Sisters meet comic book creator and writer, Daniel Way (Deadpool, Daken). By 2015, Jen and Sylvia announced that they are collaborating with Daniel Way in creating their own graphic novel titled Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack!. It's a grindhouse film presented in graphic novel form. Jen and Sylvia are even featured in the comic as the “Sister Sisters,” knife-wielding, whip-cracking, chainsaw-carrying nuns. As you can imagine, it will be a very graphic 144 pages of over-the-top insanity and social commentary! Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack! is due to be out in May 2016.
Besides making beautiful films and awesome graphic novels, Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska have been avid proponents of Women in Horror Month (WiHM). WiHM exists to celebrate the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries and has a very strong message: it is time to stand up for women in the industry and to celebrate feminists everywhere!
Every year, the Twisted Twins make a PSA in collaboration with WiHM to encourage people to donate blood because you cannot think ‘horror’ without thinking ‘blood’. Jen and Sylvia are very passionate about the importance of encouraging people to donate blood, and it shows. In previous years, the Soska Sisters released their own PSAs, but in the last two years other female directors have come on board to create their own segments, resulting in the Women in Horror Month Massive Blood Drive PSA Anthology. This year’s PSA dropped on January 31, and included feminists filmmakers of both genders!
As you can see, there is a lot to love about these wonderful ladies. They are talented, smart, ambitious, badass women that are trailblazing through life—and quite successfully, I may add! The Soska Sisters have created a name for themselves and continue to redefine the boundaries of filmmaking. On top of it all, they do all they can to connect with their fans through various veins of social media. They are always interacting with their fans when time allows for it. I am not only proud of these ladies, but grateful for their friendship and forever in debt for their priceless advice.
SANDRA STRUZIK is, in all actuality, a "Jane of all trades". She is a licensed paralegal in the province of Ontario, Marketing Co-ordinator for Three Evil Cats Productions, contributing writer for Bloodbath and Beyond, and the list goes on! She is a horror connoisseur/film enthusiast with a strong backing for women in film. If you're lucky, you can find her lurking in the Marvel section of local comic shops or at the closest Starbucks! You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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