There have been movies in the past about inanimate objects that come to life and kill. A killer doll named Chucky gave us 5 (that’s right 5) movies. John Carpenter brought a car named Christine to life. Small Soldiers brought real action figure fights. And who could forget that freaky clown doll from Poltergeist? In the vein of these comes Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber.
Rubber centers on Robert, a tire. Now before you think this is one of those animated movies, hear me out. Robert is a brandless tire that does nothing that a normal tire couldn’t do. Except, he can move on his own…and blow this up with his mind. We follow Robert as he goes on a killing spree. He starts with bottles and ends up killing people.
All the while, a group of about 10 people sit on the outskirts of the town where this mostly takes place. While there, they are free to see the film as it unfolds on the other end of their binoculars. But they aren’t watching just Robert, but they are also watching the sheriff and his men as they attempt to track down and kill Robert.
Every year, I come across a bizarre movie or two that is so outside the Hollywood system and convention that I simply must see it out of insatiable curiosity. Last year, it was the brilliant mindfreak Antichrist. A few years before that was Teeth. I don’t know where I find these movies, but they all deserve a wider audience than what they get.
With Rubber, we get an experimental film that flirts with the label of being avant-garde. Having a movie revolve around a simple tire and putting most of the criticism in the audience that embeds itself in the film, it’s a miracle this isn’t a complete disaster. But somehow, the movie makes it to the finish line mostly intact. The film does wear a bit thin after an hour, but with the brisk runtime of 82 minutes, it isn’t too much of a problem.
The film is a great homage to grind-house films, from recent updates of the genre to the originals. Made for a simple $500,000, it shouldn’t take a lot to get some decent part of the production budget back. This film is absurd intentionally. A form of “film for no reason”, the surrealism turns over on itself and makes the film a convoluted guilty pleasure. With impressive effects (how do they get the tire moving and make the tire look actually alive?!) and filled with buffoonery, Rubber isn’t for everyone. But to those who give it a chance, just might be pleasantly surprised. 3 out of 5 stars