The Soska Sisters rise in horror has been a controversial one with lovers and haters on both sides ever since their first film in 2009 Dead Hooker in a Trunk introduced the world to Jen and Sylvia Soska aka The Twisted Twins.
Writing together and directing together the identical twins made even more waves with 2012’s American Mary which played at festivals across the world and brought these horror loving movie makers to the attention of the mainstream bringing us to their connection with WWE films and helming See No Evil 2 which is out on DVD now.
Hilarious, passionate, knowledgeable and wonderful I was lucky enough to talk to Sylvia and Jen about their love of horror and the challenges they face in the industry as well as hearing about how they got started, their love of Frozen, working with WWE and the best mutant rapes in film.
Enjoy The Soska Sisters interview Part 1
Love Horror: I heard that it was your mother who got you into horror and film making, can you tell us about that?
Sylvia Soska: When we were little girls we were always fascinated with horror movies and back in the day of video stores they would always have these very decorated horror sections and if we were anywhere we were in that section looking at the boxes and reading the stories and trying to make up what the movies where about. We were obsessed with it. We always begged our mom “We wanna see this” and “We wanna see that” and she said “No your way too young” but eventually when we were 10 years old she finally caved in and let us watch Poltergeist with her. We made it through the movie but that is probably the worst movie to start off with with children because it is designed to terrify you.
So afterwards we were scared shitless and my mom did something that would forever change the way Jennifer and I looked at film she explained what we had actually seen. She explained the director, the actor, the script the prosthetic artist and all of the make-up and she said that it was these peoples jobs to scare you. We were like “Wait a minute that’s a job!” and I think it backfired because she told us about the make-up effects people and we became gore heads and started saying “It’s okay mom I wanna see Hellraiser it’s just pretend”
Jen Soska: It’s so strange that some people can’t tell the difference between horror movies and prosthetics which I truly believe is an amazing art form and real violence. I mean once in a while people will send me a real suicide video and I’m like “Oh my god I don’t want to see that! It’s not art it’s horrible!” With prosthetics we watched all of the House movies which are very prosthetic heavy. My mom also had a massive collection of Stephen King novels and those are the first novels we ever read. I read Pet Cemetery and Sylvia read Cujo, I think it’s because we are such animal lovers. Stephen King has a great dark sense of humour and that had a huge influence on us as well. I think real horror should have equal moments of levity.
Sylvia Soska: Because it was such a process of growing up and part of our relationship with our mom anytime people say anything negative about horror or say they are too scared I’m like “Oh it reminds me of my mom.” I mean some people have their mom baking them pies and we have her watching horror movies with us and helping us with Stephen King’s more colourful language.
Love Horror: It makes horror almost homely in a way.
Sylvia Soska: Yeah it’s super nostalgic. I watch horror movie and I remember being a little girl and sitting on my mom’s bed watching them and thinking that’s awesome!
Love Horror: How hard was it getting recognised in horror which is a very male dominated industry especially when it comes to directing?
Sylvia Soska: Yes it was pretty difficult especially with our first film being Dead Hooker in a Trunk. I remember when we first sent it out to different film festivals they would send back messages saying “We don’t show this kind of movie” and I said “Oh no what did we do, what didn’t you like about it?” and they would say “Just the title alone we don’t want to have that kind of thing associated with our festival.” It was so harsh. When we had finished it we had sent it to all the directors that where involved with the very multi-collaborative Grindhouse because Hobo with a Shotgun and Robert Rodriguez films where always such a big inspiration for us. Two days later we heard back from Eli Roth. He was very supportive and he started mentioning us in interviews and all of a sudden a lot of the festivals started changing their mind and saying “what about that movie we were so excited about that Dead Hooker one why don’t we show that!”
Jen Soska: Being identical twins is also a double edged sword because half the people will be more excited because they think “Twin sisters working together that’s really cool you don’t really see that anywhere.” If there were other twin female directors out there working I’ve never met them or else I have locked them up somewhere so that we are the only ones. On the flip side there are people that say “They’re just a gimmick, they’re just a couple of girls who think their super-hot and they’re just taking advantage of horror they don’t actually give a shit about it” which I take real offense to because I love horror movies and I couldn’t help being born with an identical twin sister. One of the major things we have tried to fight against is being seen as a gimmick and not real directors.
Sylvia Soska: Yeah we can’t help that there are two of us and we like to dress like cartoon characters (Laughing)
Jen Soska: It’s because we want to superheroes. I always wanted to be the X-Men or something like that and I never got asked to fancy dress parties so I just dress like that all the time like there is a party.
Love Horror: Its hideously sexist that as you say because your twin sisters and dress how you want to dress that people say it’s only a stunt to attract attention or sell your films rather than taking you seriously. It would never be said about two brothers who directed together.
Jen Soska: It’s incredibly frustrating and worse so when people review our films but instead of talking about our films there’s paragraph after paragraph of personal attacks. I didn’t realise this was part of it. For some reason our work inspires people to use hateful language and write angry things about us. I guess it’s still inspiring some sort of creativity.
Sylvia Soska: there is really no in-between with us its either I love the Soska Sisters or I hate the Soska Sisters and the only middle ground is I haven’t heard of the Soska Sisters yet.
Jen Soska: Oh you will! (Evil Laugh)
Love Horror: At least its extreme reactions, that’s what horror is all about getting a reaction whether it’s good or bad.
Sylvia Soska: Oh yeah absolutely. I think any art form should do that. The worse thing is no reaction. You can see that reflected with the WWE and the way that they do their business which is something I can relate to. There has never been a person who has afterwards said “I could just leave it” its either “I love it it’s the greatest movie ever made” or “The Soska sisters are the downfall of horror.”
Jen Soska: I think people like to talk in hyperbole at the end of the day because everything is such an extreme.
Sylvia Soska: Because it is so divided the love and hate if somebody says “I hate the Soska sisters” all our fans that are really passionate get upset. It’s almost like trolling the fans to get more hits for their site because no one will give us a lukewarm. If they’re going to give us a bad review it will be the worst movie they have ever seen, we should be put to death, nobody should ever give us money again it’s like we made Salò or something.
Jen Soska: I would love to make the worst movie ever seen that would be epic bragging rights. I would be like “You know that really shitty movie, the worst one ever, that was me, I did that!” I would be proud to make the worst movie ever made but I haven’t got there yet, maybe later.
Sylvia Soska: If we work hard one day. (Laughing)
Jen Soska: One day. (Laughing)
Sylvia Soska: We aspire to it. (Laughing)
Love Horror: (Laughing) It’s a good thing to aspire to in a weird way. How did you get involved with See No Evil 2?
Sylvia Soska: After American Mary we took so many meetings and everybody basically wanted us to do the exact same movie starring Katharine Isabelle as a sexy surgeon or torturer and we were like “we made that, that movie already exists!” Anyway our agent called us and said “I have a script you need to read right away” and we were like “Oh yeah I bet we know what that’s about.” He calls us again and says “Did you read the script yet?” the same day and we thought oh it’s actually a script emergency. Jenifer and I are huge WWE fans. The weirdest coincidence is that we actually started watching wrestling when the Kane character was introduced. Anyway we started reading this script and were like “This isn’t the sequel to that movie in 2006 is it?” We kept reading it, reading it, reading it and said “Oh my god, oh my god I can’t believe it” at the same time. The we thought “Oh we’re probably just a quota thing” because we get a lot of interviews where they don’t actually have any intention of hiring us so if anyone says “You didn’t look at any women for this?” and they can say “Oh I did too I looked at the Soska’s they just weren’t right for the project.”
Jen Soska: It was really impressive just to be considered for a WWE film especially because we are such massive WWE fans. I remember our agent was saying “Keep an open mind this is a WWE project” and it was actually the opposite reaction as we said “Oh my God its WWE! Tell them we’ll do a film with them just to hang out with the Undertaker!”
Love Horror: Having seen See No Evil 2 and Leprechaun: Origins it really seems like WWE are committed to making good horror films rather than just cashing in on their wrestlers.
Sylvia Soska: I think a lot of that has to do with the head of WWE studios Michael Deluise who has been looking around and grabbing all these indie and art house directors and saying “Hay let’s give them a budget, let’s put our studio behind them and see what they come up with.” He was one of the only people in the industry that said “I can see you guys doing more than this” he picked us for See No Evil 2 and he also hired us to do our very first action film called Vendetta which we just finished up.
It’s just so amazing to have that kind of support at this point in our career. You see a lot of people doing these great film festival darling projects but where do they go afterwards? You see them making a made for TV movie or they just disappear or they are ruining around trying to find funding for years and years. It really is like a happy ending to our story and Jen and I had so much fun collaborating with him they are never going to get rid of us now, we will never leave even if they don’t have any projects. It’s like every time they announce a new project I’m like “Hay why are we not directing that?
Jen Soska: “Yeah I’ve got a weekend off why am I not doing that?” or I will always say when they have a new project coming up even if I’m in post-production or pre-production on another movie of theirs I say “If that director fails or if you don’t like him I will come in. I will be the tag-team champion just bring us in!”
Sylvia Soska: I think they worry about telling us about movies now because we’re like “Can I do it? What about me? How’s that guy I’ll fight him!” and their like “That’s technically not how it works. You can’t just fight people for jobs here.”
Jen Soska: Before the WWE told us that I thought we could just wrestle people and get our way.
Love Horror: That would be absolutely amazing if that was how they decided who was directing movies by tag-team wrestling matches.
Jen Soska: (Laughing) I would love that that would be so cool! I remember passionately arguing why are we not doing Jingle All the Way 2 and they were like “Why would you want to do Jingle All the Way 2?” and said “It’s a WWE movie, I can do a Christmas movie!”
Sylvia Soska: That’s also the thing Jen and I don’t only want to make horror movies we want to tackle every sub-genre but we also want to tackle every genre of film making and one thing we both really believe is there is no reason why a movie has to be bad you can always make it into something awesome, you can always make it special.
Jen Soska: We are so used to being labelled and another great opportunity the WWE gave us was to do that action film because nobody will even let us take a meeting for a non-horror movie because they are just so dead set on us being the Twisted Twins and that the Soska Sisters do horror. Yeah we do horror and I love horror but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love other films. I mean I love Frozen, I love Stand By Me …..
Sylvia Soska: (Cutting in) Whoa careful you’re running hard core image Jen!
The twins descend into an argument.
Love Horror: (Laughing) That statement will send ripples through the entire horror community. When this goes online with the headline “Soska’s Love Frozen” that’s it for you now!
Jen Soska: (Laughing) I can already see the bloggers ”They sold out…again!”
Love Horror: What is your opinion on sequels especially in horror?
Sylvia Soska: We love sequels. I watched House 1 all the way to 7. You watch these sequels because you just want to see more and you get really excited about it. What always frustrates me though is a lot of the time when you’re watching these sequels the quality seems to be decreasing, they seem to be rushed, there seems to be less creative ideas and especially going from See No Evil 1 to See No Evil 2 we said we don’t want that we want to give people something completely different from what people have seen. It’s very European and Asian inspired horror movie with a big homage to the 1980’s slashers.
We are already talking about doing a third film and there’s… well Jen and I are fighting on it but we want to do a completely different style for it because you want to mix it you, you don’t want it to be that every sequel is exactly the same movie hitting the same points you want to challenge the audience and the cast.
Jen Soska: My only real problem with sequels is when you can tell that it’s being made only to build on the name of the franchise. They only care about the opening box office weekend. That bothers me and it’s insulting because they know that if they get that opening weekend before the bad reviews come out that everyone will say “They just rushed this out” because everyone knows people are going to see another Saw movie or people are going to see another Paranormal Activity movie.
When you see sequels or even remakes handled by people who really have a respect and love for the original source material it makes such a difference. When Alexandre Aja remade The Hill’s Have Eyes you could tell that he really loved the source material and he took from the original and just made an even more fucked up but amazing version of the film.
Sylvia Soska: Even better mutant rapes than before if you can imagine!
Everyone starts laughing.
Jen Soska: (Laughing) Best mutant rapes ever. I’ll go on record saying that!
Love Horror: You just got your hard core reputation back now.
Sylvia Soska: (Both cheering) Yay!
Jen Soska: That will be the quote at the top of the interview and people will say “How did you even get to talking about that?”
Sylvia Soska: Mutant rapes and Christmas movies the Soska’s next chapter!