Canadian Directors Jen and Sylvia Soska break into the boys’ club of horror movies

Twin sisters talk about remaking David Cronenberg's Rabid and writing Black Widow for Marvel

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Filmmakers Jen Soska, centre, and Sylvia Soska appear on the set of Rabid, their remake of David Cronenberg's classic horror, in Toronto. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

If there’s a book on how to be a female storyteller who’s inoffensive to the Hollywood establishment, twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska would probably send a chainsaw through it in one of their films.

The Vancouver-born horror writer-directors have dedicated much of their careers to doing things female filmmakers aren’t expected to — tackling the male-dominated horror and and superhero genres. Their remake of the David Cronenberg classic Rabid comes out next year and they’re also putting their spin on one of Marvel Comics’ key female characters by writing new issues of Black Widow.

Upending horror’s penchant for portraying women as victims is a large part of their motivation, the Soskas say, following an appearance on a “women in horror” panel at this month’s conference for the Directors’ Guild of Canada.

“We gotta make sure everybody gets murdered!” said Sylvia.

‘Insane’ pressure

That kind of thinking earned them a cult following, and the twins landed on many “female horror directors to watch” lists after American Mary, their 2012 movie about a medical school student who moonlights as a surgeon performing extreme body modification.

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