Exclusive Interview: Jen And Sylvia Soska Talk AMERICAN MARY And Beyond

 

The Twisted Twins aka Jen and Sylvia Soska‘s sophomore horror offering AMERICAN MARY is primed and ready to drop on Blu-ray and DVD on June 18th and this modern day Frankenstein story is a can’t miss!

Jen and Sylvia took a break from their uber busy schedule to let me pick their talented brains for a while. This is actually our second interview, the first being several years ago when they were promoting their first film Dead Hooker in a Trunk. This time we talk in depth about American Mary and how they came up with this story, we talk about what’s up next for them and much more. Head inside for my latest Versus with Jen and Sylvia Soska aka The Twisted Twins, two girls that we’l be seeing a lot out of for years to come!

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Alien Bee – First of all, I just want to say congrats on your success and all of the cool news that American Mary has been getting!

Sylvia – It doesn’t even feel real. You don’t hear about a character study featuring body modification getting this kind of response, so we’re very grateful to the horror community for the outpour of support. They are the best people on the planet and can do anything they out their hearts behind.

Jen – Thank you kindly! I wake up every morning and I’m still blown away by it all. It’s overwhelming. Not everyone gets to live their dream and I consider myself very very lucky and I have just so much unabashed love for the horror community and people who support us and our work. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today and I never forget that.

Alien Bee – After the success and popularity of Dead Hooker in a Trunk how soon did y’all know that American Mary would be your next movie?

Sylvia – I honestly thought AMERICAN MARY would be five, ten years down the line because it was such an ambitious project, but when are passionate about something, it’s all we think about. I couldn’t even think about doing another film, it became an obsession of mine. We would go over every little detail of the film in our heads and plan everything out even though the film was constantly getting passed on. When my parents, after watching us struggle with the film for years, remortgaged their home to be the first investors, I knew it was happening, and that we would have the responsibility to make sure their incredible amount of faith in us wasn’t a mistake.

Jen – We started dropping it in interviews during the release of DHIAT. Like Sylvie said, it was not meant to be made for years and years. It’s such a personal story to us, we didn’t want to make it without being able to know we were making the story we wanted to. The further along you get in your career, the more control you get because you earn it. Maybe Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino can get final cut and final say on their films, but it’s a real struggle to get there. It can be a battle to keep your vision intact. MARY had to be made right now. I can’t explain it any other way. It’s really like she just took on this life on her own.

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Alien Bee – For our readers, tell me a little about American Mary.

Sylvia – The film follows the story of medical student, Mary Mason played by the intoxicatingly talented Katharine Isabelle, as she grows increasingly broke and disenchanted with medical school and the surgeons she once admired. A twist of fate promising easy money and notoriety sends her into the messy world of underground surgery and body modification that leaves more marks on Mary than her so-called freakish clientele. It’s a film that discusses a lot of issues like appearance, radical feminism, the recession, and self-worth while not going for the obvious route. I like films that ask questions and allow you to think.

Jen – You write what you know. The more vulnerable, the better the final product. The film is very much an analogy for our own ventures in the film industry. We started out acting and modelling and as you can imagine we came up against so very unsavory characters. I heard the stories, I thought I saw it all. Then when we made DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, we saw a whole new ugly side to this business where as much as we struggled to be seen as equal to our male counter parts, our gender and usually our age became the object of discrimination with many monster producers and execs. We found that the people you’re meant to respect and hold in high regard are often the real monsters and the outsiders, the indie brats and the horror community which can appear to look a little different or seem intense are in fact the sweetest, most generous and honest people you’ll ever meet. That’s largely where our theme, “appearances are everything” came from.

Alien Bee – Any inspirations for this movie or did y’all set out to try and do something totally original?

Sylvia – I met a gentleman, unbeknowist to me at the time, that cleaned up bodies for criminals. We were bartending at a private event and some of the people started getting aggressive with us. Suddenly, this young guy stepped in and it was strange how afraid of him everyone was. There were apologies, a lovely evening in very dangerous places with everyone treating us extremely politely. We were dropped home and the next morning I get a hysterical phone call from a friend who knew who we were with. There’s a lot of him in Mary. I think we put a lot of ourselves into her too. The themes in the film became quite a bit more personal than I realized when we were writing it.

Jen – There was a lot of real life experience that went into it, even though there was this huge desire to create something new and original. I hate the trend of remakes and sequels. Especially in the way of horror. Everything that’s been coming out, largely in North America, follows this tired formula. You’ve got each character type, you can guess what happens, the ending, the deaths, the order of deaths, the villain. You can even predict the predictable twist ending. You look internationally, and their horror cinema and identity is so much braver than our own. You see these rebels in North America rising up, but it’s largely to combat how stale everything’s become. And thank God for the oncoming age of originality to combat the crisis of remakes.

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Alien Bee – The movie has a little blood and gore in it. What was the grossest thing ya’ll did in the movie, from your point of view?

Sylvia – The ranko party with the surgeons. There are parties like that where powerful, wealthy people have a free for all with hired girls. When you want so desperately to be a part of the club/ to be accepted, sometimes you don’t pay attention to the warning signs all around you. There are studies that rape scenes are shot to be sexually gratifying to the audience when in truth, it is one of the most horrifying experiences a person can be forced to endure. We wanted to examine that real horror and the tone and intention is gross to me.

Jen – The real horror in AMERICAN MARY was the real life horror. We intentionally didn’t use over the top gore in the surgery scenes as we didn’t want to further the negative association with body mod. I think it’s a beautiful form of self expression. When we first pitched the film, people were very turned off by the idea of body mod. They couldn’t see that it could be done beautifully, but I believe the film proves that it can be and it is beautiful.

Alien Bee – I really like the soundtrack to American Mary. Do y’all have a hand in picking out the songs for your movies?

Sylvia – I’m glad that you liked it. When we write a script, many of the tracks are written in. There isn’t a step of the film that we aren’t involved in and music is so important to the project. With our brilliant composer, Peter Allen, we soundtracked the film and even recorded some of the tracks.

Jen – There isn’t anything we’re not involved in. We went through all the song and music choices with Peter Allen, our composer. We also brought back a fan favorite and our much loved Kevvy Mental, who did a lot of the music for DHIAT. He wrote several original tracks for AMERICAN MARY and we’ve already started talking about and picking tracks for BOB. You won’t see a Twisted Twins film without Kevvy.

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Alien Bee – Katharine Isabelle is kind of freaking awesome isn’t she! Will ya’ll be working with her again?

Sylvia – She has told me that I am not allowed to work without her again, so if I don’t cast her and I go missing, you know why. Ha. I love that woman. She’s a remarkable talent and a wonderful human being. The three of us make a good team and we’re already setting up projects to collaborate on next, so you’ll be seeing us together for a long time.

Jen – Absolutely, ha ha. I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed to work without her. We have a great working relationship and I really admire her as an artist. She is the thinking person’s scream queen. She’s brilliant and effortlessly so and you can’t watch her without falling in love with her. Mary herself is an incredibly selfish and nonredeemable character, but you can’t help but love her and that is a testament to her talent. We’re far from through with working with each other. We’re really just getting started.

Alien Bee – The movie deals with some wild body modification. What made you decide to go this route with this wild underground art?

Sylvia – Because we were always weird and we are identical twins, we know what it’s like to not fit in. It has made us gravitate towards the underdogs and misunderstood and no group fits that category as well as the too often villainized body mod community. Here is a group of self-aware, interesting, unique people that are constantly under the attack. People are supposed to learn not to be prejudice towards people because of their appearances and life choices, but that’s not how the world works. What does a person who looks like Katie have in common with a seven foot guy covered in tattoos with someone who has had body modification procedures? They are all judges on appearance before anything else. It was a great theme to unify people while showing the members of the body mod community in an honest way.

Jen – I honestly cannot stand people or society singling others or a group out. There is this false and incredibly negative connotation associated with the body mod community where people like to point the “freak” finger so they feel more normal (whatever that means) and better about themselves. It’s discrimination and disgusting. It’s so common that it’s almost accepted to make these people outcasts. It’s ridiculous because most of us have body modifications. If you have a piercing, a tattoo, or have been circumcised, guess what? You’ve been mod’d. Just some forms are that are more accepted than others for no real reason.

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Alien Bee – What has been the strangest fan experience you two have witnessed so far?

Sylvia – I don’t know if I would consider them ‘fans’ but the opposite of love isn’t hate, but disinterest, so maybe they started with a big emotion towards us and the work. The death threats are odd. I really don’t like them. Especially when they make it personal, put in details that force you to give their information to the police and notify the people that work with you – it’s weird and stupid.

Jen – The happy tears always make me tear up. I hate it when someone is too scared to come over to us. We’re very nice. We’re Canadian. By all means, if you see us, especially when we’re at festivals or conventions, come over to us! I’m so sad when I see on facebook or twitter comments like, “saw the Twisted Twins at such and such, but was too scared to come over.” It really makes me sad because we love meeting the people who support us!

Alien Bee – You two are attached to THE ABCs of DEATH 2. Can you tell me anything about this or is it too early?

Sylvia – It’s still a bit early, but I can tell you that we have been dreaming of being a part of this anthology for a long time, so we’ve cooked something epic up.

Jen – Only that it will be the greatest and best thing ever. Also, that we are very honored to be a part of it and love our producers, Tim League, Ant Timpson, Marc Walkow, and Todd Brown. We aim to make something that’ll have everyone talking for a long time. No pressure, right? ha ha

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Alien Bee – Do you have any idea what your own next movie will be? Can you tell me anything?

Sylvia – It’s hard to tell because we have been so fortunate with the response on MARY that we have had a lot of opportunities come to light. I don’t know what’s going to go first, but our focus is on our original monster movie called BOB where we are teaming up with Masters FX for something that people are really going to dig. The tagline is: There’s a monster inside all of us, sometimes it gets out.

Jen – It’ll be our first son. I’m sure you can guess what that means. I’m very, very excited. We like to keep our audiences guessing as to what we’ll do next. This’ll be a definite Twisted Twins film, but it’s original, unique, and we aim to outdo ourselves with this one. It’s always got to get bigger and better. We have a pile of scripts, even more ideas, and so much opportunity right now. I can promise you we’re just getting started.

Alien Bee – Where can everybody find you two online?

Sylvia – We’re on twitter, facebook, tumblr, instagram, we have a website – www.twistedtwinsproductions.net. We love meeting new folks. The only messages we don’t respond to are fuck me or make me famous – I’m terrible at both.

Jen – What she said!

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Alien Bee – Would you like to say anything to everyone checking this out?

Sylvia – Thank you for supporting us like you guys have. I know that we have been able to do this because of the support we’ve gotten and we can never thank you enough. Our goal is to keep making unique, interesting films in ways of saying thank you for allowing us to keep doing this stuff!

Jen – Yes, thank you! The people who support us and our work are the reason we get up in the morning and do what we do. We love you guys.

 

 

*All images courtesy of their respectful photographers

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