‘Trunk: Locked In’ Review: A Fast-Paced Thrill Ride in the Vein of ‘Buried’

Trunk - locked in

I love a film that makes effective use of a single location. Buried is perhaps the gold standard for self-contained horror thrillers. And while Amazon MGM’s new film, Trunk: Locked In doesn’t necessarily reach the lofty heights of the Rodrigo Cortés masterpiece, this German language chiller does manage to function as a claustrophobic offering that had me actively engaged from start to finish. 

Trunk: Locked In follows Malina (Sina Martens), a woman who has trained as a physician but left medicine behind following a tragic mishap. We are introduced to Malina while she’s being abducted by an organ-harvesting ring. One of her kidneys has been removed, she’s temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, and she is now trapped in the trunk of a moving car with no means of escape. Malina manages to salvage her cell phone before her captors discard it. But when she calls for help, the authorities aren’t able to track her precise location. Knowing the odds are stacked against her, Malina must do everything in her power to free herself from captivity and make her way to safety. 

Writer/director Marc Schießer imbues Trunk: Locked In with an air of paranoia that permeates every scene. Malina’s father warns her not to trust the police. Inversely, the police warn Malina not to listen to her father. That sense of uncertainty is likely to leave the audience unsure who truly has the lead character’s best interests in mind. We see Malina’s father drag his feet and make questionable decisions, keeping the viewer on guard and giving us cause to question the loyalties of nearly every character to whom we are introduced.   

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Schießer further augments the tension by adding a series of complications. He utilizes well-worn tropes like poor wireless coverage and dwindling battery life, but he uses them to profound effect. At every turn, Malina is faced with a series of unnerving challenges, each of which has life-or-death consequences. All the while, the viewer is left in wait as authorities make a series of ill-fated attempts to locate the vehicle she’s locked inside. While police have a general idea of where Malina is, they can only triangulate to a certain point. Worse yet, she doesn’t know the make, model, or license plate number of the vehicle to which she is confined. All of this fosters a complete sense of helplessness. 

Making matters even more unnerving is the camerawork and assembly of the footage. Schießer utilizes disorienting shots and abrupt editing to put the audience in a similar frame of mind as Malina. There’s a really impressive sequence that frames the proceedings through a dislodged taillight. As the driver of the car speeds the wrong way down a one-way street, we see the action unfold from the vantage point of that broken taillight. Cutting from that perspective to Malina inside the trunk gives the proceedings a dizzying effect that puts the audience right there in the middle of the action. That sequence is supremely unsettling but so impressively rendered. 

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As if Malina being kidnapped, losing a kidney, and contending with various other forms of malady isn’t enough, Schießer leaves the lead character to contend with re-sealing the incision wound from her impromptu kidney removal surgery. Being a bystander through that ordeal is anything but pleasant. As she searches the trunk for tools, Malina proves an incredibly resourceful protagonist, managing to make use of an earring and her shoelaces to close the incision. While this sequence proves a testament to Malina’s ability to think on her feet, it’s no picnic to watch. Try as I might to fix my eyes on the screen, I kept averting my gaze and squirming uncomfortably until her wound was re-sealed. 

Seeing as this is a self-contained affair, the success of the narrative rests largely on Martens’ shoulders. But the actress handles that responsibility effortlessly, turning in an impressive showing in her turn as Malina. The character goes through a dynamic range of emotions, each of them believable, undergoing a surprising amount of growth throughout the process. 

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Much of Malina’s relatability can be attributed to Martens’ performance. But credit is also owed to Schießer for scripting an impressive character arc for the leading lady. While being trapped in the trunk of a car, Malina finds herself looking within. She bravely confronts her fears and insecurities and resolves to do things differently if she makes it out of this ordeal alive. She recognizes that, to some degree, she has been the biggest obstacle to her own success. That piece is well-executed, never veering into sappy or sentimental territory and ultimately serving as a testament to Malina’s inner strength and self-awareness. 

All things considered, Trunk: Locked In is a fast-paced affair with an effective lead character and competent direction. If you enjoy a self-contained thriller, I would recommend giving this flick a look. If you’re keen to do so, you can find the picture streaming on Prime Video

  • ‘Trunk: Locked In'


‘Trunk: Locked In’ is fast-paced and engaging. Fans of a self-contained thriller will find plenty to enjoy here.

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