About a week or so I reviewed the latest film from the Twisted Twins, the sensational Jen and Sylvia Soska. These Vancouver natives have been on an artistic role within the horror genre with their two most recent film, the immediate classic American Mary and their latest effort, See No Evil 2, a throwback slasher film that employs the Soska’s visual sensibilities with their love of all things gruesome and violent. I’m a huge fan of their work, so it was a thrill once again to be able to talk to the twins via email about See No Evil 2, their ongoing relationship with actor Katharine Isabelle and much more (including some pro wrestling chatter too).
Andy Burns: Ok, ladies, this movie was seriously fun from the moment it started. Great jump scares, a killer…killer and super solid performances from everyone involved. So first off, you delivered! As for my first question, how did See No Evil 2 become your follow up to American Mary?
Sylvia Soska: Thank you so much! After the success of Mary, every meeting we took, despite what we were pitching for became a request for us to make a watered down version of what we just made – sexy surgeon Katie doing something or other. It became depressing. Our goal has always been to make something different with each film, even though we really do put our sensibilities pretty thickly into whatever we make. The slasher sub genre was one we really wanted to tackle and we are huge Glenn “Kane” Jacobs fans – this was a great opportunity to make a love letter to slashers.
Jen Soska: We are the fan directors. We love movies, horror, video games, comic books, and WWE (from way back when it was WWF). It was really exciting to be able to take one of our favorite WWE Superstars, Glenn “Kane” Jacobs and be able to recreate his Jacob Goodnight character. We actually started watching wrestling just as Kane was being introduced so being able to work with Glenn was so special to us. We started out as Kane fans and now we are the biggest Glenn Jacobs fans.
Some people also forget that not only did we make American Mary, but also Dead Hooker In A Trunk. We love exploring all the delicious sub genres of horror. One of the things we like to do more than anything is keep our audiences guessing. You see that in our films themselves and we try to do that with the films we select to take on. We never want to repeat ourselves.
AB: You wrote American Mary, but in the instance of See No Evil 2, you’re working with someone else’s script. Did you guys tweak things as you went along during your shoot, or was the film pretty much what was on the page?
SS: The script that Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby wrote is the reason that the film happened – it was awesome, exactly where the franchise needed to go. In many respects, the original See No Evil film almost feels like a prequel because so much is about Jacob’s mother and SNE2 focuses on who Jacob is and his motivations as a singular killer. The script transformed a lot, but that was because we all wanted to make it special and push different elements that would leave us with a strong film.
JS: It was a wonderful collaborative experience working with writers Bobby Lee Darby and Nathan Brookes. You will definitely see our influences in there, especially our sense of humor. We played around with a lot of the elements, particularly the emotional aspects to the character death. The boys were great to work with.
AB: How did you go about casting the film – you’ve got a dream team of talent in See No Evil 2; did you have immediate thoughts once you took on the project about getting Michael Eklund, Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle, or did their involvement come out of the casting process.
SS: This was our first studio film and it was important to us to have Katie in there. That was immediate. She should be in tons of studio films and I wanted to make sure people saw her as something different from Ginger and Mary – because she is so good, her characters become iconic which is rad, but sometimes it can overshadow what a wonderfully diverse artist she is. We missed working with Michael on American Mary and were ecstatic that we could rectify that in this film; he also is starring in our upcoming action revenge thriller, Vendetta. Danielle, I never imagined I would get the opportunity to work with, this is her genre. She’s incredibly diverse too and I love that she’s behind the camera, directing killer films now, but it’s badass to have her in a film like this. And a lot of Amy was Danielle – she brought a beautiful realness to that character.
JS: Pretty much every time I pick up a script and end up liking it I think, “okay, where’re the roles fro Eklund and Katie?”. There isn’t a project I would want them on. Katie is pretty much like family to us and she’s so hilarious in this. She just keeps surprising us. Eklund is the Canadian Daniel Day Lewis. He’s just so talented. And it was on our bucket list for a long time to work with Danielle. I mean, she’s an icon. She’s horror royalty.
AB: Katharine is such a knockout in the film; as I was watching her, I thought to myself, “Katharine is to the Soska’s what DeNiro was to Scorsese”. What was it like working with her again?
SS: Something magical happens when the three of us get together. She works her ass off for us and I know she can do anything on the planet – that’s why it’s so much fun to have her in a project. Katie is one of those actors that when I imagine the world of a script, I see her playing different roles. I just know the phenomenal energy and life that she brings to her work, it’s amazing to see. She’s playing Margot Verger on Hannibal right now, I cannot recommend watching that show enough and check her out in the upcoming 88 starring opposite Christopher Lloyd.
JS: There isn’t anything Katie can’t do. She’s just got this “shut up and take notice” quality to her. You notice when Katharine Isabelle walks into a room. We fell madly in love with her after Mary and had been die hard fans since Ginger Snaps. We wanted Katie to play this very self aware character. You think she’s the slut, but you quickly realize she’s playing the jock and she’s phenomenal. My favorite scene in the whole film might be when she climbs on top of Jacob, ha ha.
AB: Working with Kane and WWE – a dream come true?
SS: Yes. I felt like a dog at the pound getting adopted by a great family coming to work with the WWE. They are a family, they take care of each other – my opinion of the company was pretty high from our years of fandom and actually getting to see it firsthand blew me away. Glenn “Kane” Jacobs is one of the best human beings on the planet. He is awesome. His dedication, his professionalism, his talent – he elevated the entire production. I cannot wait to work with him again. He is a star in every sense of the word.
JS: Absolutely. Half the reason we came on was to work with Glenn. It was a big elaborate plan to meet him and become best friends. It’s surreal because we started to watch the WWE the summer that Kane was being introduced. I fell hard for Kane and The Undertaker. I never dreamed that I’d be working one day for the company. It’s such an honor. We’re such fans.
AB: Wrestling sidebar – how did you both react when Brock Lesnar broke the Undertaker’s streak? And is Dean Ambrose the next Steve Austin?
SS: That Wrestlemania match I don’t see as a loss, it was Undertaker putting Lesnar over as a super heel. Whoever broke the streak was going to be hated, who can handle that hate and make it work for him? Lesnar with Paul Heyman as his mouth piece. Am I happy about it? Not at all. I never wanted to see The Streak end, but it is tradition to put someone over like that. There will never be another Steve Austin – all those iconic Superstars are completely unique. I have seen the Ambrose mania firsthand and people love him, but I’m a Kane woman.
JS: Oh, NO. You shouldn’t get me started. I am still so angry about Paul Heyman’s client, Brock Lesnar, beating The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. I remember where I was when I heard because I couldn’t watch. I was so in shock and so mad. I thought it had to be a mistake. There are a few things that you just believe as infallible truths in life. One day we’ll all die. The sun will come up in the morning. And the Undertaker will win at Wrestlemania.
And Dean? He’s a peach, but Austin is back from the Attitude Era of the 90s where I really fell in love with WWE (WWF back then). Stone Cold is just magic. There was no one like him. His show down against Vince McMahon was so beautifully executed it was practically opera.
AB: While working on the film, how sympatico were the two of you when it came to deciding on the best takes? Were there ones that one of you preferred more than the other? If so, how do you work those things out?
SS: We are seriously one mind in two bodies. We are vastly different in many ways, but that usually just means we take different paths to get to the same goal. We share a goal of making the best film that we can, so varying opinions from either of us is never an issue of ego which can only damage a film. Jen is just an awesome partner to work with – I don’t know how a singular director does it.
JS: We share a hive mind. We almost always choose the same takes and the same line deliveries. We talk about all that stuff way before we set foot on set as we always keep moving and a disagreement would just slow us down. We always put business first. The real hardcore discussions always happen in post, ha ha. But we’re both fiery Hungarians. It’s how we talk normally.
AB: Finally, what’s next for you both? When do we get to see Vendetta?
SS: We are just in post for Vendetta, which will be out in 2015. We have a few projects that are in development that we are really excited about, including our first graphic novel adaptation film with Painkiller Jane. We are putting a strong focus on Bob. We’ve never truly stopped working on it and we’ve met a lot more people in the last few years in the industry, looking for a good fit to make that film happen soon!
JS: I am so excited for people to see Vendetta. We reunite with Michael Eklund, who is an absolute triumph in the film. We have Dean Cain like the badass you’ve never seen before taking on Paul “The Big Show” White. It’s practically a Punisher movie and we can’t wait for it to be out. It’s looking like sometime in 2015. We’ve got quite a few project that we’re pushing forward, but nothing would make me happier than to do our original, high concept monster movie, Bob. It’s so us and I know it would really blow people away.
Thanks again to Jen and Sylvia for their time and for their constant support of Biff Bam Pop!