Seeing the work of L.A.-based photographer Alex Prager in a recent issue of New York magazine, I couldn’t help but be drawn to its weird vibe of retro unease, with pictures that serve as minidramas that conjure a bit of Cindy Sherman colliding with Alfred Hitchcock. The photos in Compulsion, the series from which they are taken, are lingeringly eerie, leaving the viewer both shaken and stirred.

Her photos are staged almost like a motion picture, providing the basis for “only about 40 percent of the image,” Prager told New York. “I’m using it as a foundation, in the same way a painter might: adding clouds, adding a car.” She actually bought the Chevy in 2:00 P.M., Interstate 110 (below left) and submerged it in water before digitally “sinking” it into the original photograph; the final image remains similarly lodged in the mind.

With photos already in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney, Prager, 33, has also branched off into film (a natural progression one would say), and a short piece, La Petite Mort, can be seen along with Compulsion at galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and London until the end of May.