Damn. Was this a good year for film or what? There were easily 20 or so other films I could have tossed up here but I went with the tried and true formula of the Top 10. Now, the rules of the game; The Best Film of The Year was given to the film we were most impressed with, the one we couldn’t wait to watch again, the one that smacked us square in the geek. As for the other 9, they’re in no order of importance although I will say the last film on the list will be in heavy rotation for a long, long time. Now let’s get ramblin’ and see what kind of trouble we can get into.
Jen and Sylvia Soska created an ambitious film that gave the finger to popular DIY convention. DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK is 100% exploitation that knows its roots but never relies solely on the shock of the situations. It knows it’s force but doesn’t stand around for 90 minutes beating you up and leaving you bleeding on the road. It’s a well-balanced film that clicks along at a fast clip, using dialogue like bullets, never wasting a single moment.
DHIAT follows the adventure of the unlikely crew of Badass (a mean Sylvia Soska), The Geek (an innocent…for the most part… Jen Soska), The Junkie (a strung out Rikki Gagne), and Goody Two Shoes (C.J. Wallis who shows some real acting chops and also busted out some solid tunes for the soundtrack). We know the characters only by their stereotypes and they are full embraced. From the sisterly rivalry of the twins who are on the opposite ends of aggression, to the Junkie working a habit and Goody Two Shoes praising his god. These characters all mesh, they shouldn’t, but they do. Credit the script which is full of pulp dialogue with a punk attitude for bringing these guys together.
On a simple little mission to score Junkie her fix, the crew finds a dead hooker in the trunk and that’s when things start to go south… fast. Led by Badass who has a fucking Bruce Banner style temper, they set off to bury the hooker while going toe-to-toe with cops, chainsaw psychos, a cowboy pimp, and a serial killer that sets up one of the many well-choreographed fight scenes.
The Soska;s at one point left acting to focus on stunt-work since they both have an extensive martial arts background. It shows. These chicks know how to handle themselves in a fight, particularly Sylvia who has the bulk of the fight scenes in this. Her character is kind of the defacto leader of the group so it makes sense that she gets Rocky treatment. The fights are smart. In fact, the fights in DHIAT are better than in some big budget Hollywood flicks. I almost wish there was more of them just because I dug them so much. There is one scene where Badass is going after a truck driver and uses the step on his truck as leverage to deliver a fistful of revenge. That is all kinds of cool and shows a skill most filmmakers don’t have right out of the gate.
The Soska twins know their film history; they know what works and what doesn’t work. They have studied people like Robert Rodriguez and have taken notes about how to get the most bang out of your independent buck, and this bastard looks like a million dollars. DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK has been watched at DG HQ 3 times now and each time it gets better and better. Each time something else is picked up that I dig even more than the viewing before. This film is a fucking blast and I can’t wait to see AMERICAN MARY, the Twisted Twins follow up to DHIAT. They just bought themselves some giant shoes to fill.
9 OTHER FLICKS YOU NEED TO SEE
A new horror classic and the best horror film of 2011.
The best climax of any film this year. The last 30 minutes is a gut-punch of violence in the best tradition of the grindhouse. Buckle-up!
A dark, gritty study of revenge where shades of gray take the place of good and evil.
For those that like their clowns fucked up and full of symbolism and rage, dig this shit!
Hammer missed the mark with THE RESIDENT but made up serious ground with WAKE WOOD which has the vintage Hammer feel.
Whoever had the idea of casting Albert Brooks as a villain is a goddamn genius. Hands down the coolest film of the year.
This was the best animated film of the year and an amazing homage to the Spaghetti Western genre complete with an appearance by The Man with No Name (voiced by Timothy Olyphant).
A slow simmer of a film about the descent into madness. Looking forward to seeing what Michael Shannon does with General Zod in Superman: Man of Steel.
The film SUPER 8 was trying to be. A phenomenal script, under-stated effects, and smart characters who you connect with. I won’t be surprised to hear this film mentioned as an influence on future filmmakers twenty years from now.
Here’s to good watching in 2012, salute!
SEE YOU ON FORTY DEUCE,
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