INTERVIEW TO JEN & SYLVIA SOSKA (Twisted Twins) Part I

0.- How do you define yourselves. Who are Jen and Sylvia Soska? Tell the spanish horror fans who you are.

S: We call ourselves the Twisted Twins – it was very important to us to have a very clear definition as to who we are and what we do. Growing up, we always loved horror and the darker side of things. We have worked in film since we were little girls, but it wasn’t til later in our lives that we took control of our careers as a writing, directing, and producing team. Before then, we were in front of the camera.

J: I guess you could say we’re like the Coen Brothers of horror. We’re the Soska Sisters. We’ve always loved films, but were attracted to horror from a very young age. Unsatisfied with the kind of roles offered to identical twins, we tried to expand on our early acting careers into stunt performing, having heavily studied in martial arts. After another unsatisfactory venture into acting via a local film school, we decided to take our careers into our hands the best way we saw how, by becoming film makers ourselves. We wrote, directed, produced, and starred in our debut feature film, DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. The film has now traveled the globe and been shown at a multitude of film festivals, won critically praise from reviewers and fans alike, been honored with several awards, and even captured the attention of director Eli Roth.

1.-What makes you decide for the cinema? Specifically, for the terror cinema?

S: Being identical twins, there was a good opportunity to work as actresses because there were two of us and that helps on a set where children can only work so long. One finishes her day and the other swaps in for longer shooting. It was such a magical world that once we knew it was professional ‘make-believe’, we knew where we wanted to work.   Since early childhood, horror had a never-ceasing fascination for us. Maybe because it is so taboo for young people and especially girls to be drawn to – which is funny, because I know just as many female horror fans as men. Jen and I would go to the horror section of our local video rental store and look at all the film cases. If we found a particularly graphic bloody image, we would share it with the other. Then beg our parents to rent the film.

J: Our parents have always been incredibly supportive. Our father is a very talented painter himself. Our mother had this huge collection of Stephen King novels and she told us if we read the novels, she’d let us watch the movies. As a result, we were reading at a very advanced level at a young age. Additionally, we took Stephen King’s trademark dark humor onto ourselves. He has this amazing way of terrifying his audience and then throwing in some ridiculous humor that makes you laugh in spite of yourself. I’ve always loved that. It made horror very fun for us and we’ve always felt that that is how horror should be.

2.-What brings you the terror cinema at the expressive level?

S: The older we got, the less desirable the jobs we were offered became. There is a high sexual viewpoint on identical twins and after looking at our resumes – which consisted of various versions of ‘sexy twin schoolgirl’ and ‘sexy twin alien’, etc. – we decided that we needed to do something that actually made us proud to work on. We quit acting to focus on stunt work due to our extensive martial arts background which brought us to a film college with a fantastic stunt program.   Unfortunately, the stunt program was the only aspect of the school with anything to teach as the rest of the curriculum was not even something that would resemble a school. It was another frustrating let down. The final frustration came when the school pulled funding for our final project and told us to just merge into another group. That was the last straw. Being heavily influenced by Rodriguez and Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE, we decided to make a fake trailer for a movie we would be excited to see. With us in the driver’s seat, we could put everything into the project that we found entertaining, crazy, and fun. Jen came up with the title – ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’.   We screened it last at graduation. Half the audience walked out while the other half was cheering so loud that you could barely hear our offensive dialogue. The team that made it with us consisted of friends we made working in film to that point. Everyone was so excited by the reaction that they wanted to know when we would be making the feature. Over the next two weeks, we put together a feature-length script and started to get to work.   J: Horror is universal. Everyone knows what it feels like to be afraid. Horror can be almost therapeutic in that way. It gives you the opportunity to face your fears at a safe distance. I wish I could say nothing horrible ever happens in real life, but we all know that isn’t the case. There are some truly horrific things that happen in this world and to not examine them makes us irrationally fearful of them. It’s kind of like the fear of the dark. What are you afraid of in that situation? That which you don’t know. So, I say, take it’s power away. Reveal that which is too horrible to look at at. Horror films allow us to do exactly that.

3.-Is it a need or just an option as any other?

S: I’ve worked in many different fields, some with very generous salaries, where I could have continued to work and live quite happily but I something was always missing. I cannot feel the same fulfillment from anything like I do when I am making films. It’s a very difficult and sometimes brutal industry, but I would gladly take my worst day in film over my best day doing anything else. I feel like Jen and I see the world in a different way than others, so our stories are unique and strange. If we didn’t make these films – then these stories couldn’t exist.

J: I don’t think I will always make films that are easily classified as straight forward horror. However, I know that no matter what kind of films I create, they will include horrific aspects to them. I’m drawn to the genre and it really upsets me that horror is looked down on like some sort of a sub genre. There are some truly poor horror movies out there, but there are also some very well done ones out there, too. I would like to change how horror is looked at. It’s been a long time since SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Somewhere down the line it seems that people forgot what horror is. They stuck to slashers and threw in scantily clad girls, but left behind the good story telling. Blood and sex will always sell, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be thoughtfully put together.

4.-Are you open to work in other cinematographic genres?

S: I think no matter what genre we are working within, there will always be horrific elements to our stories. We thought DEAD HOOKER was a comedy and the gore was almost an anime-style cartoonish over the top style, but to some people it was very horrific. Even if we made a romantic comedy – it would probably seem like a horror to people still. We have another script called BOB about a man who is tortured with his past and how he grows up as an adult to become a man and it has some extremely horrific elements to it. I don’t think any of our films are going to get under an R rating anytime soon.

J: Absolutely. We will bring our love of horror and dark sense of humor to anything that we work on. There are so many stories we have to tell. We have so many scripts ready to go. I have this one script, THE MAN WHO KICKED ASS, that I’m extremely proud of and can’t wait to work on. That one will probably be a few years down the line, but it’s really going to be something special.

5.-Which are your influences? Who are your favorite directors (not only horror directors)

S: Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo are huge influences. Their first film, EL MARIACHI, made history because of its modest budget of $7000 and its impressive feats within that budget. Robert sold his body to science – as he was tested on and paid for it – and used that money to pay for the film. He wrote a book called ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ chronically how they made the film and we used that book to really inspire and teach us on our set.   Lars Von Trier is one of my favorite directors right now – I find his work so beautiful and haunting and human. It’s mesmerizing. Other favorite directors include: Paul Thomas Amderson, Mary Harron, Eli Roth, Wes Craven, Takeshi Miike, Yoshihiro Nishimura, and Peter Jackson.

J: Not surprisingly, all of the directors Sylvia mentioned. I also love Joss Whedon. His dialogue, his wit, and the characters he creates are wonderful. I’d be honored to work with him someday. I love Hideo Kojima. He’s the genius behind the METAL GEAR SOLID series. Sylvie and I love video games and comic books, we find a lot of inspiration in them. Stan Lee is outstanding. I hope to get to meet him in my life time. I firmly believe some of the greatest stories are told in video games and comic books.

6.-How arise the idea of “Dead Hooker in a Trunk”?

S: It’s funny, because we had the title before we had anything else. The whole story was kind of wrapped around that initial concept. We are total nerds – we love horror, comics, and video games – so a lot of those influences also made it into the film.

J: From when we first did the trailer it was a no brainer. The response was exactly what anyone could ever want. Love and hate, but nothing in between. It’s the purpose of art to get a strong emotional reaction. You have to take the positive with the negative. The worst is having no reaction at all. That means you, as a artist, have failed.

7.-A horror film for all the life…

S: SUICIDE CLUB. One of the most hauntingly dark and beautiful films I have ever seen. I wish I had made it.

J: AMERICAN PSYCHO is my personal favorite. I have a lot of respect for Mary Harron.

 

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