Directed by: Quentin Dupieux
Category: Exploitation/Trash Cinema
This is probably one of the strangest flicks I've ever seen. Good, just bordering on great but not quite getting there.
I remember reading about this one last year as it was hitting all the film festivals. And immediately it sounds intriguing. A movie about a killer tire rolling around a desert town killing people and animals with it's psychic powers. Sounds like a blast to me! Sounded like a unique, clever idea. Certainly one I've never seen yet.
The problem is that the film thinks it's so clever in fact, that it has to constantly remind you of how clever it is, starting with the opening sequence. One of the main supporting characters drives up in a police car. But he's not the driver, he's actually in the trunk for whatever reason. The car pulls up from a distance, the trunk pops open and he steps out taking a glass of water from the driver of the car and walks up to the camera and delivers a monologue to the audience about "things just happen for no apparent reason". I guess that explains why he came out of the trunk instead of the drivers or passengers seat of the car. Clever. As he's delivering his monologue he starts offering examples of why "things just happen for no apparent reason" like "In the movie E.T., why is he brown?", or "Why can't you see air?". Like I said, clever. When he's done with his little speech, he pours the glass of water to the ground and gets back into the trunk of the car and it drives away, for no apparent reason. Then the movie starts and were shown that besides you the viewer there is an actual audience of spectators with binoculars in the desert there to watch what is about to unfold, being the story.
A tire named Robert (there is no reason why the tire has a name) digs itself out of the desert ground and starts rolling around. As it's rolling around aimlessly it realizes that it has telepathic powers that enables it blow things up, for no reason. It rolls up to a bunny, it blows it up. It rolls up to a bird, it blows it up. And you know its going to happen because when it's about to do one of these explosions the tire starts to shake, so you know it's using it's telepathic powers. It soon finds it's way to a road and starts rolling along when it comes across a pretty girl driving alone through the desert in her car. For some reason the tire becomes fixated on this girl and apparently follows her to her hotel, but it doesn't kill her. It kills other people in spectacular fashion, but not this girl it's fixated on.
I will say, the effects in this movie are outstanding. In all honesty, probably some of the best practical effects I've ever seen on film. When a rabbit, bird or a human head explodes, it looks real as hell and the camera does not shy away with clever editing. Oh no, it lingers on for what seems like forever as Robert the tire uses it's telepathic powers to explode someone's head and you're sitting there waiting and waiting for this persons head to explode and when it does, the camera doesn't move or cut away, which is just awesome. And I have no idea how they made that tire move throughout the entire film. I mean, it's genius and I wish I knew how they did it. The tire moves, stops, turns jumps and does all of these things and you wonder how they did it because it just seems impossible. Another thing Rubber has going for it is that it's beautifully photographed, i mean it's just simply stunning. I have to give it to writer/director Quentin Dupieux. The guy has a gorgeous eye and has displayed some of the most inventive and gorgeous camera work I've seen in a movie in a really long time. It's a shame he wastes his talent with something like this as this film clearly shows the guy is incredibly talented. Maybe someone will see the talent on display here and give the guy a proper venue to show off because the guy can film a movie beautifully.
What Rubber ends up being is a weird type of exploitation revenge movie about a tire that kills relentlessly with it's telepathic powers. Which is badass in my book and a movie well worth checking out, especially when you throw in the insane amount of gore and really well done practical effects and stunning camera work. What kinda ruins the experience is when the movie literally stops dead in it's tracks several time to constantly remind you how clever it is by including that group of onlookers/audience. They serve no purpose whatsoever and offer nothing that affects the overall outcome of the film except to slow it down severely whenever they're brought back into the picture. And that's the biggest thing holding this film back from being a cult classic, the constant reminder of weird things happen for no reason. It's got all the ingredients, including a dedicated and talented production crew on an extremely limited budget.
The budget for Rubber was $500,000, pretty damn impressive considering it looks like it was made with a budget 10 times that with all the trimmings. Hell, they even have Wings Hauser in here as one of those damn spectators. Another interesting fact about Rubber is that it's a French production, with writer/director Dupieux of course being French but also the entire crew and the production companies that financed it. But the entire cast except for the the actress that plays the girl that Robert the tire is fixated on is American and the entire film was filmed in California. Just another weird fact about Rubber.
I had a good time with the interesting premise and when the film was rolling with the insane plot and exploding heads and cool effects, it was fun. I didn't even care that there was "no reason" for any of it because it was fun. I just wish they had edited out all that spectators/audience stuff and focused more on delivering a crazy ass "tire on a killing rampage" story.