Rubber (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/04/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 79 mins

Gleefully absurd horror-comedy that has a lot of fun with its comments on genre filmmaking and builds to an enjoyably bonkers climax but the joke wears thin in the middle section and the action eventually gets as repetitive as watching an actual tyre for 79 minutes.

What's it all about?
Directed by Quentin Dupieux (aka music producer Mr Oizo), Rubber opens with a cop (Stephen Spinella) delivering a monologue about “the cinema of no reason” and gives numerous examples (“Why is E.T. brown?” etc) before handing out binoculars to a group of assembled spectators in the middle of the desert and instructing them (and us) to watch what happens. The bickering crowd then watch as a rubber tyre comes to life and discovers that it has psycho-kinetic powers of destruction, which it decides to use on the human populace of a nearby desert town.

Along the way, the tyre becomes smitten with a beautiful young woman (Roxane Mesquida) it spies showering in a hotel room and begins to kill anyone in her immediate vicinity. Eventually the cop reappears to solve the various deaths but he quickly realises that the action can't stop until the spectators stop watching ...

The Good
Dupieux has a lot of fun with his premise, throwing in some amusing horror clichés and under-cutting all our criticisms by having the spectators voice them first. Similarly, the Scanners-esque head-exploding effects are extremely well done and Dupieux builds to a gleefully absurd climax that has to be seen to be believed.

In addition, Spinella and Mesquida deliver admirably straight-faced comic performances (Mesquida, in particular, has an inspired “bad acting” scene) and there's strong support from both Jack Plotnick as the cop's nerdy assistant and Wings Hauser as the most stubborn spectator.

The Bad
The problem is that this is essentially a one-joke movie and that joke wears thin pretty quickly, since the tyre is never actually all that scary and you don't care about any of the victims, especially given the distancing effect of the spectators. Plus, a huge amount of the 79 minute running time is taken up with shots of the tyre just rolling along, which is entirely as interesting as watching an actual tyre in real life. (That said, despite the closing scene going on for ages, there is an inspired final gag).

Worth seeing?
While not quite as clever, as scary or as funny as it should have been, Rubber is still an enjoyable horror-comedy that should do well on DVD and will almost certainly become the future cult classic it so clearly wants to be.

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Content updated: 20/10/2017 00:38

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