Director: Quentin Dupieux
Writer: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Stephen Spinella, Roxanne Mesquida, Jack Plotnick, Haley Ramm, Wings Hauser, Ethan Cohn, Charley Koontz, Tara O’Brien
MPAA Rating: R, some violent images and language
Runtime: 82 min
Major Awards: -
IMDb Rating: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
This is a film pretty much designed to split audiences between those who like it and those who hate and can’t comprehend the reason for its existence. And listen, I can understand both points of view, because Rubber really is one weird genre experiment and even at a short 82 minutes one could maybe make decent points about it being some 50 minutes too long. But I actually found myself appreciating the film, I’m not gonna go ahead and say it’s a film exercise worthy of awards or a legacy, but I did found myself thinking that the premise, though overplayed at times by writer-director Quentin Dupieux, did manage to create a very unique, and surprisingly decent, mix of horror and laughter.
Rubber really is a film that just goes ahead and tests your endurance for the absurd. I mean, it’s a movie about a serial killer tire. Just think about that and how crazy it is the sheer fact that they could squeeze a premise like that for an eighty minute feature film, it’s the definition of a film that you can only begin to enjoy by heading into it with the most open-minded approach you can muster. And to me just the fact that this film exists is reason for celebration, when you add to that the fact that it manages to exists with a considerable level of success you have to start examining whether it’s genius or just damn clever.
I personally considered the former, thinking it was a piece of genius work, but then I came back to my senses and declared it the latter. But considering your senses won’t come into play at all while you’re watching Rubber then it’s save to say you’ll think you’re watching unparalleled genius unspool in front of you. Because horror movies for the past few decades have been all about finding ways to scare us with things that we would find totally ordinary most of the time, but none of them have taken that concept this far. It’s about a tire, one that actually has a name (the credits tell us it’s Robert), and that goes killing people in a crazy sort of rampage. And the film makes the smart move of recognizing how insane it is and then adds a meta layer to itself in which it serves as some sort of commentary on film and which just adds to the insanity of what we’re watching.
And we get some very meta stuff at the beginning especially, we get Stephen Spinella’s character looking into the camera and telling us that in real life and films both, many things happen for no particular reason. Except he’s not really talking to us, we then find out, but instead to a crowd in front of him who’s about to watch a film that deals with what he just told us that some things happen for no particular reason. That crowd instead of watching the film display itself on a screen are all given binoculars which they’ll use to see the film take place right in front of them live. They will, of course, act as some sort of Greek chorus to us, commenting on the stuff at the same time as we watch it happen.
What they watch, of course, is the tire, or Robert as you may want to call him. And it really is fascinating at first to watch that tire just trying to get “up” trying to roll itself, and then discovering that it has the power to sort of telepathically make certain things explode. Things here obviously have no cohesive narrative, which is actually fine because the second Mr. Dupieux let us know in that first shot that sometimes things just happen for no reason he totally left the field wide open for crazy stuff to happen and for him to be able to go by unaccounted for any of it. It’s a cheap schtick in some ways because then it can do whatever he pleases without providing any explanation, but it’s also a smart one because you really can’t make a movie about a tire that kills people by explaining everything because you’d lose the audience quite fast. We don’t really even get to know why or how it kills people, it just happens and we have to along with it.
Everything that happens after we see the tire “wake up” is crazy, it starts killing small stuff and then making its way into our typical motel in which we’ll meet our typical horror movie woman about to get in some dangerous situation. And even though the narrative structure here sucks, the end product is so crazy and fun that I just couldn’t help but love Rubber, and even though I sustain that this would have probably worked much better as a half hour short, I still think that it was a fun hour and twenty minutes. Full of imperfections, that’s for sure, but who cares, we’re watching a movie about a serial killing tire, the second we agreed to that we threw out the window our rights to complain about implausibilities.
Seriously, if people tell you bad things about Rubber, and they’ll probably have good arguments for it, don’t really trust them and go see for yourself. Don’t even trust yourself if you read the plot line and think it’s just way too stupid for you, just go see the actual film and even if you don’t end up loving the end result my guess is that you’ll leave the film thinking about it and thinking about how interesting it was and how awesome it was that, even if you didn’t like it, a movie like this actually exists.