Anna and Priss are on a road trip across a sun-soaked, desolate stretch of the desert when Anna decides to pick up a mysterious hitchhiker by the side of the road, a decision Priss disagrees with.
The hitchhiker both sparks Anna’s interest and incurs Priss’s annoyance, and the trio constantly negotiates ever-shifting undercurrents of intrigue and hostility. But as the conversation unfolds — and the hitchhiker acts strangely — the pair begin to wonder if the man they’ve picked up has dangerous intentions.
Writer/director Max Silver, along with producer Rachel Sklar, have crafted a suspenseful, clever thriller that continually pulls viewers in with its potent mix of glossy yet gritty visuals, deft storytelling and high-adrenaline action.
The film is contained narratively to what’s essentially one long scene, but within that stretch is a well-plotted and well-written roller-coaster of a story that understands how to set up viewer expectations, elongate them for maximum tension — and then expertly skew them to generate even more surprise.
Top-notch visuals also go far to continually engage and intrigue the eye, and the camerawork mixes sweeping desert views with more intimate shots and editing within the car, tracking the interplay of conversation and subtext. The two female leads banter and spar as they bring the dialogue to life, with Jessica Jade Andres as the hyperconfident extrovert next to Kate Krieger’s more closed-off, skeptical Priss.
They’re engaging as two modern, independent young women out on an adventure, although that adventure is not what it seems, especially as we slowly uncover the mystery of their hitchhiker — played with snake-like charisma by Jordan Turchin — through their eyes. The story meticulously constructs its central mystery of the hitchhiker with well-placed breadcrumbs of clues, and what they discover eventually leads to a pulse-racing, gripping and gristly climax.
“Trunk Space” is a stylish, suspenseful piece of entertainment, offering feature-worthy production values while keeping the storytelling smart and focused for its short narrative scale. It seems to read as just another action-thriller on the surface, but with a well-placed (and very fun) twist, it teases that its glossiness actually belies other secrets and meanings worthy of re-watching, as well as a darker underbelly than initially thought. It’s that primal fear and curiosity of looking under the lid of the box — and discovering what’s underneath is murkier and more disturbing than you could ever imagine.