Amazon Prime Video’s German film ‘Trunk: Locked In’ revolves around Malina, who gets kidnapped and locked up inside the trunk of a car. From the kidnapper, she learns that she is going to get killed at the end of their journey. She then uses her mobile phone and whatever “tools” she can find inside the trunk to save herself. Marc Schießer’s mostly single-location film is not based on a true story. Both the film and the protagonist are completely fictional. Having said that, the survival thriller explores several universal themes that viewers from all across the world can relate to!
The Universal Themes in Trunk: Locked In
Marc Schießer, who wrote and directed the film, conceived ‘Trunk: Locked In’ as a single-location survival thriller in the likes of Rodrigo Cortés’ Ryan Reynolds-starrer ‘Buried.’ There are several similarities between the two films. The protagonists of both thrillers are kidnapped and locked up in a confined space. In both the films, they deal with a ransom demand. They both mainly use a phone and a lighter while plotting their escape from the space as well. However, Schießer’s movie is not just an imitation of Cortés’ 2010 film. It explores the universal theme of survival through Malina’s efforts to escape from the truck.
In reality and fiction, there are several examples of ordinary people displaying a superhuman level of resilience to survive in the face of personal or communal threats. In the case of Malina, before getting kidnapped, she was just a doctor who had been hoping to build a life with her boyfriend Enno. She has embarked on a trip with Enno to travel throughout South America for six months as part of their life journey together as a couple. After she gets kidnapped, there’s nothing ordinary in Malina’s actions. She risks her life to save not only herself but also her boyfriend under the belief that he is kidnapped by the same people.
Even a near-fatal wound on her body doesn’t kill Malina’s spirit. She becomes innovative and uses her shoelace to treat her wound and save herself from bleeding to death. She makes use of whatever objects she finds inside the car to extend her life. Universally, human beings are capable of going to any lengths to ensure their survival. The instinct and spirit to survive is inherent in humankind. Through the fictional saga of Malina, Schießer’s movie sheds light on how much humans can endure, tolerate, and push themselves to save their lives.
The film also underlines the importance of human relationships. Malina never loses hope because of Elisa Kühne, the emergency dispatcher who talks to her throughout the former’s time inside the trunk. When the doctor accepts the possibility of getting killed, it is Elisa who reminds her that she can still escape from the predicament. Without Elisa’s companionship, Malina may not have been able to push herself to try to escape. The accidental relationship Malina and Elisa form is the foundation of the former’s unwavering efforts to save herself.
Schießer might have chosen the trunk of a car as the setting of his film because there are several real-life examples of kidnappers confining their victims inside in the same space. A recent example happened in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in November 2023 as a robber forced a man to lock himself up in the trunk of the latter’s car with a gun. The man was able to escape from the moving car with the help of an emergency trunk release. In May 2023, a man was beaten, kidnapped, and confined inside the trunk of his own car in Seattle, Washington State. The car eventually crashed into a home, only for the man to climb out of the trunk.