The Girl in the Trunk Image

The Girl in the Trunk

By Terry Sherwood | May 31, 2024

Reading Murray Leeder’s outstanding book The Horror Film: A Critical Introduction, the author speculates on the dividing line between horror and crime films. The two are more similar than not: both feature a “final girl,” and several plot points are common among the genres. With that in mind, it was quite refreshing to come across an inventive, modest thriller that interestingly uses those tropes, such as The Girl in the Trunk, written and directed by Jonas Kvist Jensen.

Amanda (Katharina Sporrer) is abducted on her wedding day before even getting to the ceremony. She wakes up bound and gagged in the trunk of a moving car. Using her cellphone, the abductor controls Amanda’s access to the outside world, even getting through to a 911 operator who asks her frustrating questions. Amanda has no idea who the kidnapper (Caspar Phillipson) is, why she was taken, where they are going, or if she will be assaulted at any moment or killed.

Amanda is resourceful and punches out the truck lock. Peering out, she sees the passing countryside, but much to her shock, it doesn’t help pinpoint where exactly she is. That isn’t to say she saw nothing. In one of the best shot moments of a solid visual film, Amanda witnesses the death of a good samaritan who tries to help when he sees the vehicle on the roadside. Amanda’s survival comes down to cat-and-mouse conversations with her mysterious kidnapper. She faces the terror of a scorpion placed in the truck by her captor. The exquisite shots of the little beastie crawling slowly along the contours of her body and face amp up the tension wonderfully.

Amanda has no idea who the kidnapper is, [or] why she was taken…”

The Girl in the Trunk takes a basic story of abduction and adds thoughtful direction and excellent casting. When coupled with the taut screenplay, the film creates a mini odyssey of redemption, responsible parenting, and an indictment of the view that one’s insular world is the only one that matters. Oh yes, and toss in suspense, fear of reptiles, and dread of sexual perversion and serve it piping hot to those willing to take the journey.

Amanda’s abduction is a brilliant and inventive way to open the film. Jensen places the camera under the car, and we view it in seemingly real-time. The audience only hears the lead’s dialogue and sees her wedding shoes. There is no over-the-top crashing music or cries for help, just legs entering a vehicle, a muffled scuffle, and a single shoe dropping to the pavement. Economical, simple, and devastating in the world of CGI and attempted large setups in small-budgeted films. This sets the tone for the claustrophobic thriller that lasts until the end, even when we finally leave the trunk as things wrap up.

Admittedly, that conclusion is somewhat muddled. Yet it reveals how people feel about their place in the world, especially when surrounded by the rich and famous. The filmmaker comments on people’s resilience, what others hide in their lives when pushed to the limit, and the harrowing cost it takes on them. Plus, there’s the occasional moment of histrionics in an otherwise grounded narrative.

Those flaws are easy to ignore, in part thanks to Sporrer’s performance. She is confined to lying in one place and sometimes turning. She emotes well in such confines, showing fear and joy believably. Phillipson is solidly creepy as the mysterious abductor. Visually tight but engrossing, The Girl in the Trunk is a worthy thriller, especially thanks to the slam-bang conclusion. Make sure your vehicle is not due for service anytime soon.

The Girl in the Trunk (2024)

Directed and Written: Jonas Kvist Jensen  

Starring: Katharina Sporrer, Caspar Phillipson, Hother Bondorff, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

The Girl in the Trunk Image

"…a worthy thriller..."

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