Directed by Quentin Dupieux
Stephen Spinella’s opening monologue ponders the arbitrariness of cinematic decision making, there doesn’t have to be a reason for why something happens on film. It is arguably a pseudo-intellectual get out clause used by the director to attempt to get ‘Rubber’ past any rational criticism, to allow it to be appreciated rather than dissected. Spinalla plays Lietenant Chad, a character who is both the reality in the fakeness, and an actor within a horror movie frantically trying to stop a tyre’s roll of terror. Why does the tyre want to kill? There really is no reason.
After Spinella’s monologue, it is revealed that he is not breaking the fourth wall, but talking to an audience within the film that are gathered on a hillside. The audience are issued with binoculars by a nerdy looking accountant (Jack Plotnick), and gather together to watch a film. The audience periodically help to break-up the monotony of a tyre rolling through the desert, offering their views on what is happening.
A tyre rises from the desert dirt and rolls along, searching for something, at first it encounters inanimate objects – a plastic bottle that it rolls over, a glass bottle which at first the tyre cannot break, then it vibrates and smashes the glass bottle using psychic powers, repeating the trick with a tin can, and then the tyre using these powers to a make a wild rabbit and a black crow explode in a cloud of gore, fur and feathers.
The early movements of the tire are marvellous to watch, captivating in a similar manner to a wildlife documentary that captures the first tentative steps of a new born animal. An audience attachment forms to the tyre, you will it to go on, to roll after the initial few wobbling falls. How can someone form an emotional attachment to a tyre?
When the tyre reaches the road it notices an alluring raven haired pale skinned woman named Sheila (Roxane Mesquida) driving a red car, the tyre uses its powers to stop the car, but is unable to do any further damage when a truck comes along and smashes the tyre off the road. The tyre tracks down the driver of the truck at a petrol station and blows his head off in fantastically gruesome fashion; no doubt a tribute to the infamous head exploding scene from Cronenberg’s ‘Scanners’.
Rolling on to a motel in a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere, the tyre finds Sheila showering. We go back to the audience, who complain of hunger, the accountant comes along with a cooked turkey, and like starved animals all of the audience except a wheelchair bound man (Wings Hauser) chow down on the carcass. The turkey has been poisoned, and after complaining of agonizing stomach cramps the audience die, apart from the man in the wheelchair, who wants to keep watching the film. The accountant comes back with more gourmet food for the wheelchair bound man, however the accountant succumbs to temptation, eats the food, which again is poisoned, and dies.
When fleeing from the Police, the tyre witnesses a pile of tyres being burned, this causes it kill dozens more people. The scene feels a little tacked on, as the tyre’s murderous free up to that point has no need to be justified. Eventually the police track down the tyre to a quaint little isolated house. A farcical showdown ensues.
‘Rubber’ would have probably benefitted from being a sub-sixty minute short film, having said that I quite enjoyed its unabashed pretention. The director Quentin Dupieux, better known under his DJ alias Mr. Oizu is musically speaking very much from the style over substance school, as a Director he makes a bold point about the restlessness of cinema audiences. The audience on the hill want to comment on every little thing, they want to see action; they are inquisitive, hungry for more. It is Wings Hauser’s wheelchair bound character who initially has it right; waiting for the story to unfold, but even he gets impatient towards the end of the film, and you can probably guess how he meets his demise.