Review by: Topo Sanchez
SCUM Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
A killer rubber tire on the loose – with a movie premise like that, my curiosity was definitely piqued. I could smell the potential of a cult classic in this one, so it was with great anticipation that I pressed Play and let the movie begin…
The opening sequence shows a car zigzagging through a slalom of old chairs and knocking down every one of them. Then the town sheriff, Lieutenant Chad, comes out from the trunk of the car, and begins a monologue about the concept of “no reason”. Why is ET brown? No reason. Why dont we ever see the characters use the bathroom in Texas Chainsaw Massacre? No reason. Why cant we see air? No reason. He goes on to tell us about how Life itself is filled with no reason, and how Rubber is a movie that pays homage to this concept.
The camera pans back to reveal a small group of audience that had been listening to the sheriff’s presentation, after which an accountant proceeds to distribute a bunch of binoculars amongst them. We learn soon after, that this group of audience is using the binoculars to watch a movie unfold in the distant, just as we are watching them watch this movie. At this point, I am not sure if director Quentin Dupieux (aka French DJ and music producer Mr. Oizo) was genuinely expecting us to be wowed by what he thought was a ‘clever twist’, or was he just using it as a pre-emptive tool to manage our (us, the audience watching from a tv screen) expectations of the painfully boring plot ahead.
So we see the group of people looking through their binoculars, and witnessing a rubber tire slowly coming to life. Just like a baby learning to walk, the tire learns to roll. But wait, this is no ordinary baby, this baby K.I.L.L.S!! After rolling over easy items like plastic bottles and scorpions, he faces his first real obstacle, a glass bottle. Unable to roll over it, Robert the rubber tire ( the tire’s name as stated at the end credits) vibrates intensely and unleashes a psychokinetic power that shatters the glass bottle to bits. But wait a minute, why give a tire psychokinetic power? Why not give it a power that’s more relevant to its tiresome nature (pun intended), like maybe a set of giant gnashing teeth where the center hole is, or maybe the ability to shoot out small rubber darts from its treads, shortening its own life the more it kills? Oh wait, I forgot. No reason. We have already been told this movie is about ‘no reason’ right, so whatever the director decides, we have to embrace it as the word of God.
So the story goes on with Robert the tire rolling down the highway, where he attempts to use his powers on a woman that drives by. Robert only manages to stall her car, when a truck driver runs him over and breaks his focus on the lady. Revengeful Robert then blows up the truck driver’s head and proceeds to track down the woman to a motel nearby. And I am guessing this is probably when Robert grows into puberty, because he witnesses the woman having a shower and quickly checks into the room next door to take a shower himself.
Why? No reason.
A cleaning lady enters the room and throws Robert out. Of course, Robert blows her head up as well. Soon, Lieutenant Chad comes back into the picture, investigating the trail of exploding head murders. Meanwhile, the accountant from the first scene decides to feed the small group of watchers some poisoned turkey to end the story early. The starving group ravages the turkey and dies. All except for one wheelchair-bound middle aged man, who manages to outwit the accountant and make him eat his own poison and die. The wheelchair man then decides to enter the movie timeline and follow Robert around.
As the ‘tyre-hunt’ continues, Robert kills and kills and kills again. Until finally Lieutenant Chad finds Robert watching an auto racing program quietly in a house after blowing up its occupants. Chad devises a plan to trap Robert, by sending a dynamite-strapped mannequin to the front door, enhanced with a sexy female voiceover to lure him out. Robert rolls to the front door and proceeds to blow up the mannequin’s head. However, the dynamite failed to detonate, and Chad has to take matters into his own handszzzzzz….zzzz…zz.z…zzzz.
Oh look, the movie ended already. (thank god!)
*Sigh* I find this movie to be very very disappointing an many levels. There is no real attempt to tell an interesting story, and Quentin seems more eager to show the audience his wit and intelligence with his pseudo-philosophical approach to the overall narrative, which I find rather narcissistic and underwhelming. Mind you, I love b-movies and cheap horror films, and the reason why they are “so bad they are good” is because they are sincere in their storytelling. Rubber feels like a movie who isn’t quite sure if its supposed to be bad, and decides to cover up its nature with mind numbing gimmicks and outdated jokes. Sort of like Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa. Just doesn’t work.
I highly recommend that you stay away from this film and spend the 82mins of your life doing more meaningful things, like counting the number of cracks on your ceiling, polishing your neighbour’s car in the rain, or even jumping up and down on your own sofa naked while watching Titanic. The film has pretty good effects and quite a commendable cinematography and probably deserves a star, but I am going to give it a no-star rating anyway.
Why? No reason.