Directed by Quentin Dupieux
Starring Stephen Spinella, Wings Hauser, Roxane Mesquida, Robert The Tyre
Released 11 April 2011 on DVD | Blu-ray (UK), June 7, 2011 DVD | Blu-ray (U.S.)
Just when I thought I’d seen every type of serial killer movie, along comes Rubber. We’ve all seen those horror films where the man in the mask stabs his young victims to death with a big knife, or creatures from outer space chomp on their human victims, or even elaborate devices are created to kill those who have sinned or are otherwise morally tainted. Rubber, however, is about a murderous car tyre with psychokinetic powers.
Robert (the tyre) shakes to life somewhere in the California desert. Robert takes his first tentative rolls, toppling over like a newborn calf and we discover he has a taste for breaking things – bottles, tin cans, scorpions. If he can’t roll over something to destroy it, he uses his powers of telekinesis to make it explode. Robert happily wheels around among the plants and the discarded rubbish until, soon enough, he rolls into town seemingly fascinated by Sheila (Roxane Mesquida), a mysterious young woman. After blowing up rabbits with his mind, now humans’ heads start to explode.
The entire murderous show is watched by a group of film fans (including an excellent performance by Wings Hauser) through binoculars from the safety of the nearby hills as Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) does his best to guide the action.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I know this because as I watched Rubber I thought, ‘what the… Huh?!’ or similarly eloquent words to that effect. But I’m sure your thoughts are more coherent. Writer and director Quentin Dupieux has created a horror movie that is completely over-the-top silly that few will be able to question Dupieux’s bravery. Rubber knows it is treading this territory and doesn’t try to convince you otherwise. But this last point is the problem with it.
The movie begins with Lt. Chad trying to convince us of other movie characters and situations which did not make sense. ‘In the Stephen Spielberg movie E.T.,’ he says, ‘why was the alien brown? No reason’. This rambling speech is designed to make the audience suspend disbelief enough to watch Rubber. But don’t movie goers assume they will have to suspend disbelief to watch a movie about a murderous rubber car tyre that has psychokinetic powers? I can’t be the only one.
The group of tourists is regularly cut to, despite them having little value other than to tell the audience what the tyre is doing and what is happening. They act like a sports commentary instead of just letting the pictures speak for themselves. It seems such a waste of time, too, to include the opening speech and the group of spectators when I think a far more entertaining movie could be drawn from the remaining scenes. As it is it felt like an extended music video.
However Dupieux, who was also the cinematographer, has created a visually stunning movie. Almost every shot of the beautiful scenery is a perfect photograph. He also directed Rubber very well. We knew from Dupieux’s camera angles and direction when Robert was angry, lonely, even, bizarrely, thirsty – to make a tyre seem like it has emotions and intentions must be an exercise in directing. It is a shame the story doesn’t match this effort.
I didn’t hate Rubber but I felt disappointed in the movie I saw. In the end I found it was trying too hard, when the concept alone was enough to spark my interest.
Not a great deal to report here. Interviews with Quentin Dupieux (which is backwards – you have to watch it to believe me) and members of the cast including Stephen Spinella and Roxane Mesquida. There’s also Teaser Tests with Robert the tyre and a Trailer of the movie.