In the new action film Vendetta, Dean Cain portrays a cop named Mason who gets himself sent to prison so he can face off against the man who killed his wife, a gargantuan baddie played by WWE wrestler Paul “Big Show” Wight. What ensues is a relentless and brutal series of fight-heavy set-pieces as Cain sets about killing pretty much anyone within reach. What kind of maniacs are responsible for this nearly all-male maelstrom of mayhem (which is released to theaters and on demand, June 12)? Why, that would be the disarmingly pleasant twin sister directing team of Jen and Sylvia Soska, whose previous credits include the horror movies American Mary and See No Evil 2, which, like Vendetta, came from WWE Studios and Lionsgate.
“After we were finished murdering everyone in See No Evil 2 [WWE Studios president] Michael Luisi asked if we would be interested in this really cool action-revenge movie which takes place in a men’s prison,” says Sylvia. “Jen and I were like, ‘Go to a men’s prison and murder everybody? Yep!'”
“We’ve been trying to shed the horror director adjective,” picks up Jen. “We see ourselves as directors. I feel this really is going to open a lot of doors for us and show people that we can do more than horror, even though we do have an undeniable passion for it. Actually, Vendetta is our most violent and bloody yet. I mean, at least in a horror movie there’s moments of levity. This one just goes!”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me about working with Dean Cain—he is one serious bad ass in this movie.
SYLVIA SOSKA: I’ve always been a huge fan of Dean. But if you were to tell me that Dean Cain is the baddest motherf–ker I’ll ever work with, I probably would have laughed in your face. But this guy never gives up, no matter how much pain your put him through. This guy and his stunt double, Jason Day, had a coordinated fight sequence every single day.
JEN SOSKA: Dean Cain has ruined every other actor for me. He is always ready and there’s nothing that he won’t do. He has just the most positive attitude ever. For us, Vendetta is a version of the Punisher story. I never before would say, “Oh, if I’m casting Frank Castle, I’m going to go to Dean Cain-Superman. But I really love how the worse the looks, the s–ttier he looks, the angrier he looks, the hotter he looks.
The Big Show is so big—he’s a walking special effect. Did that cause any problems?
SS: We actually cast a bunch of actors who were 6-feet and taller to be around him because [most] men, they looked like hobbits. He was great. In the scene where Mason’s wife tries to [escape] through a door, we were talking about coordinating it, and he looked at Jen and he said, “You try and get through the door, I’ll show you what I would do.” And she ran for it and he just grabbed her and pulled her back and he was like, “Can you get out of that?” And Jen was like, “No!” And he was like that’s what I would do.”
JS: He’s such a physical guy that a lot of the action from the original script had to change because you can’t exchange blows with the Big Show. Getting hit by him once is like getting hit by a car. He’s just so powerful. And, as big as you think he is, in person he’s even bigger.
SS: We were very lucky that Justin Shady, the guy who wrote the script, was always available to tweak things around because, as soon as we had Big Show, there were things where, physically, it didn’t make sense. Like, we can’t have him climb a fence—he would just rip the fence off the wall. He’s like a freight train!
JS: We also had two amazing stunt-fight coordinators: Kimani Smith, who was with us on Fear No Evil 2, and Dan Rizzuto, who did a lot of the fight stuff. Both of them get killed in the movie—look for their little cameos. Our fighting style was a combination between wrestling moves and a style called “Jailhouse rock.”
SS: Jailhouse Rock is physical attacks but messy and dirty. This isn’t Ninja Cop Goes to Prison. It’s a real human being goes to prison, who becomes completely and mentally unhinged.
I very much enjoyed Michael Eklund‘s performance as the prison warden: he seemed to be spiriting up director John Huston and Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.
JS: [Laughs] I Iove that, because I always call Michael Eklund “the Canadian Daniel-Day Lewis.” Every time I get a script I’m like, “Who’s Michael Eklund going to play?” Because there’s usually four or five different guys he could seamlessly play.
Have either of you ever actually spent a night behind bars?
SS: I wish! I’ve always wanted to be arrested for protesting about something I care about. But I think I’m a really boring activist.
JS: The handcuffs part, at least, sounds really fun.
SS: We did put them on as much as we could—for artistic integrity!
What are you doing next?
SS: We’re just starting early pre-production—casting and crewing-up—for our fifth feature film, which is called Plastic. It’s written by Frank Strausser and it’s about a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who gets himself into a s–tload of trouble wth the Hollywood elite.
JS: I’m ready for Vendetta 2—and See No Evil 3, for that matter.
You can see a trailer for Vendetta, below.