Quentin Dupieux's Rubber offer steel-belted suspense
by Razor Sharp
About time we had an exploding head count to rival Scanners. Nothing better than a noggin splatter flick featuring an all season radial. Why a tire? Why not? Silly question.
Why is E.T. brown? No reason; so states the local sheriff in his opening monologue to the audience. And that is Rubber’s motto: no reason. It’s crazy enough that a car tire is the serial killer at work (sorry for the spoiler), but director Quentin Dupieux breaks down the fourth and fifth walls of movie making, by having actors discuss scenes with each other, with the inserted audience and with the movie audience. It’s a confusing bit of filmmaking that tries to appeal on various levels ― a cult film in search of the right audience, which may not exist. You may never look at that spare steel-belted monster in your trunk with the same old indifference.
Such a cheesy, grindhouse premise is usually presented with slapdash special effects and wooden acting, but Rubber has neither. Tracking a rolling tire as it hunts down victims never looked so good, and though the actors are parading through a bizarre premise, the performances are first rate. The tire (played by a tire) is especially good: slowly becoming addicted by its power for destruction; lusting after a European babe in a seedy motel; having a moment of reflection between killing sprees; biding some downtime by watching NASCAR. It’s a tour de force performance.
If Dupieux had stuck to a straight horror parody theme this film would run out of steam rather quickly. His choice of diversions may be questionable, and Rubber is just too damn clever for its own good, but the work of a madman should never be underestimated.
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