"The Girl in the Trunk" (2024)

by Joseph Perry and Mike Imboden

In our “The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict” film reviews, Joseph and Mike give their thoughts on a slice of cinema. For this installment, it’s the claustrophobic Danish thriller The Girl in the Trunk by Jonas Kvist Jensen. 

Manda Jennings (Katharina Sporrer) finds herself kidnapped and entrapped in the enclosed space of a speeding car's trunk. As the kidnapper (Caspar Phillipson) toys with and torments her, she must use what little means are at her disposal to fight for her freedom — as it turns out, in more ways than one.

The Good
Joseph: Writer/director Jensen wastes no time setting up The Girl in the Trunk, giving viewers exactly what the title advertises in mere minutes. From then on, it’s mostly Sporrer doing an admirable job of building a character in a confined space. She makes for a strong protagonist doing what she can to try to escape and survive her situation — though that often spells more trouble for her and for others. Tobias Bendixen’s crackerjack cinematography mines the stuck-in-the-trunk premise cleverly, with a small pipe proving useful to add tension but also to give Manda and viewers perspectives outside the trunk. I’ll give credit here to Jensen for attempting to give Manda a decent amount of backstory for viewers to invest in, but honestly, it’s not quite strong enough to fully fit in “The Good” section of my review, but neither definitely does it belong in “The Bad” section.

Mike: Being trapped in a small, enclosed compartment is some people’s worst nightmare - a fact that could probably carry over to filmmaking as well.  As an actor tasked with being shoved into a trunk (or coffin, or whatever), you can’t rely on very much physicality, and as the director you’ve got to hope that the talent you’ve hired is up to the task.  Fortunately, director Jonas Kvist Jensen has Katharina Sporrer as his Girl in the Trunk.  Sporrer does an excellent job with her role as Manda, the titular girl that is trapped in the trunk of a car.  Not only does she (seemingly) handle the claustrophobic setting with ease, she’s able to convince the viewer of the emotions that Manda is experiencing, from the fear and apprehensiveness of her situation to the anger at those who surround her.
Jensen, on the other hand, manages to build suspense within a fairly minimal setting using cat and (trapped) mouse games between Manda and her abductor, and creative uses of limited visibility.  One scene in particular gives viewers a keyhole look at what happens to a good Samaritan who probably should have just kept driving.

The Bad
Joseph: The voice acting in The Girl in the Trunk is possibly the weakest aspect of the film. The villain doesn’t sound menacing, and that’s the biggest problem with the voice acting. The emphasis on Manda’s back story and her hopeful future takes emphasis over her predicament, which takes away from the building of tension. Also, two of the kidnapper’s attempts to kill or at least terrify Manda feel straight out of a 1960s secret agent movie.

Mike:  Aside from Sporrer, the acting is pretty bad.  Since most of it relies on vocal tone and inflection it would have served the film better to have an antagonist who’s voice sounded a bit more menacing and had better lines to deliver, along with supporting characters who weren't clearly faking their Texas accents.
However, it’s kind of hard to knock The Girl in the Trunk too much considering this is a Danish production and English may not have been everyone’s first language, so I’m putting an asterisk next to this.

The Verdict
Joseph: The Girl in the Trunk certainly has enough going for it to give it a recommendation for a watch. It’s entertaining throughout, offers some decent surprises including a totally unexpected one that I won’t spoil here but that threw me for a loop, and features a nice lead performance from Sporrer. Jensen tries to do something a bit different with a confined-space thriller and hits his targets more often than not.

Mike:  The Girl in the Trunk is a decent little confined space thriller that claustrophobic viewers may find a little tough to get through.  There’s a nice building sense of dread and tension as the cat and mouse game that Manda and her kidnapper play out with it becoming more clear with every passing minute that she may not make it out of the car’s trunk alive.
The biggest hurdle the film has to clear with viewers is the vocal performances by the supporting characters and the poor dialogue that they’re tasked with delivering. However, those that tough it out will be treated to a nice suspenseful and tense affair that features a very novel use of the keyhole in the car’s trunk.
Recommended for fans of confined space thrillers.

The Girl in the Trunk
, from Sunrise Films, will be available via Digital Download in the UK & Ireland and USA & Canada on May 28th

The Girl in the Trunk
Directed By: Jonas Kvist Jensen
Written By: Jonas Kvist Jensen
Starring:  Katharina Sporrer, Caspar Phillipson, Hother Bøndorff
Run Time: 1h 30m
Rating: 15 (UK)
Release Date: May 28, 2024