Trunk (2024) Review
Outside the Club is excited to announce the global release of their last feature, Marc Schießer’s pulsing thriller Trunk, as an Original feature on Prime Video. Trunk will debut January 26, 2024 on Prime Video in over 240 countries and territories around the world. Trunk was written and directed by Marc Schießer, making his feature directorial debut after his work on the German series “Wishlist”. Schießer and his partner Tobias Lohf produced under their Outside the Club banner. Award-winning Berlin actress Sina Martens (The Perfumier, Tatort) headlines the single location thriller, with Artjom Gilz, Luise Helm and Poal Cairo in other roles. Trunk made its world premiere at Filmfestival Cologne and went on to win the Best Thriller Feature at Nightmares Film Festival.
I feel like we as a society aren’t entirely fair to Ryan Reynolds, though a lot of that is probably his own fault in recent years.
While he is a beloved and widely enjoyed actor, Reynolds has definitely gained a reputation in recent years for being a guy who just plays himself over and over. He plays Ryan Reynolds: Comedic Action Star. And he plays it with aplomb! But I think we all just kind of expect him to take certain roles and not do anything that requires too much of him.
And that’s not fair at all, because the guy definitely has some acting chops. His role in The Amityville Horror remake is unlike anything you’re likely to see him take today, and he played the murderous villain very successfully there. What’s more, he was downright excellent in the claustrophobic single-setting film Buried.
If you’ve never seen it, Buried is the story of a contractor in the Middle East who is captured and, well, BURIED in a wooden box somewhere in the desert. The entire film takes place inside the makeshift coffin, and Reynolds’ desperation and dread is marvelous to behold.
I bring this up because I was greatly reminded of Buried as I watched the new film Trunk. Trunk is a single location thriller starring Sina Martens as Malina, a woman who is abducted by a kidnapper while en route to the airport for a South American vacation with her boyfriend.
The movie takes place with Malina in the trunk of the kidnapper’s car as she desperately tries to figure out how to escape. Luckily she has her cell phone with her and is able to contact an emergency services operator named Elisa who is able to advise her and provide as much assistance as she is able.
Over the course of the 90 minute runtime, Malina struggles against her capture, tries to get the attention of others, and figures out why she is in the situation at all as she races against the clock to try to ensure her own survival.
TWO UPS AND TWO DOWNS
+As noted above regarding Buried, I’m a decently big fan of movies in a singular setting that tell the tale of a captured or otherwise constrained victim as they struggle against both the setting and how the setting may or may not mirror the circumstances of the character’s life. Even last year’s Quicksand, which wasn’t a phenomenal movie by any stretch, more or less worked for me, with its story of a struggling married couple trapped in… well… quicksand. So okay, these movies aren’t usually working overtime to name themselves.
The setting of Malina being trapped in the titular trunk does an excellent job building tension from the first act through the last. Her plight really does feel dire, and the setting truly conveys that. This isn’t a sub-genre of movie I want to watch a ton of or anything, but once a year? Yeah, that keeps it working for me.
+We never see Elisa, and that may or may not be to the movie’s detriment. We as an audience have a hard time connecting to her, but because we never see her, we are left with so many questions. Does she really care? Is she really on Malina’s side, or is she a trap? Is she real at all or just a panicked delusion?
Despite these questions that linger until the end of the movie, Malina and Elisa have a really great connection that only works because the voice acting from Elisa’s end (and the real acting from Malina’s) combines with some very well-written dialogue to build their rapport and make the slight connection they have feel real.
-The movie takes a solid short film / sixty-minute idea and stretches it a bit past where it is entirely sustainable. If you cut at least twenty minutes off of this, you’ve got a much more successful and intense film. I would venture to say that’s true for most singular setting flicks; they just aren’t designed to run ninety minutes.
What I would venture to say Trunk could have cut first and not missed at all was a short sub-plot about a family called the Gabriels, who are presented as red herrings as to who could be behind the kidnapping initially. They lost a loved one on Malina’s operating table, and her father is convinced they are behind the plot. Several minutes are wasted explaining this and how it led Malina to almost give up her job as a doctor, but nothing would have been missed if it had ben left out. Even the angle with the dad is just dropped when he says “Oh, it’s not them; nevermind” with little explanation.
-I don’t want to spoil the ending because, while watching this, I was genuinely in suspense as to how it might end. But I do want to say that it didn’t work for me at all. It just felt too… something. An adjective I can’t say without giving too much away. But when you get into the third act, I think the story goes off of the rails a bit, and the ultimate conclusion just left me with an “oh.” feeling, if that makes sense.
Cut twenty minutes and fix the third act, and you’ve got a GREAT high-intensity ride with a solid lead performance from Sina Martens. This was so close to getting a much higher score. But it goes on too long and has an unsatisfying conclusion, so it falls short of being Very Good.