“All great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason”
*This review may contain spoilers*
Rubber is a 2010 satirical horror, indie film about a tyre that comes to life and, using its psychokinetic powers, develops an appetite for exploding people’s heads. Yes, this film actually exists.
When I heard the premise of this movie, I instantly wrote Rubber off. I prepared myself for a horrible waste of 82 minutes of my life and, where this movie isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be, it is not good. This isn’t going to be a long review, as I don’t want this film to take up more time than it already has. That being said, here is my take on 2010’s Rubber.
This film opens with a shot of a police car running over multiple chairs but unfortunately, the filmmakers forgot to build these chairs with any screws, so they fall apart at the slightest push. Not a great start, but I was intrigued nonetheless. The car stops and the trunk opens, with probably the finest character (besides the tyre), Lieutenant Chad, stepping out and looking directly at the camera. At this point, I’m still skeptical, but the Lieutenant makes a witty monologue that crushed all hope of awarding my first 1/10 review. By breaking the fourth wall, Chad asks the audience a series of strange questions about a selection of great movies, with the idea that “all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason”. This scene defines the entire meaning behind the creation of Rubber: “no reason”! Now that we know there is no explanation needed for anything that happens in the proceeding film, it’s very hard to solely criticise Rubber. So far, the film is campy and mildly amusing, so I was on board for the ride.
We cut to our first shot of our anti-hero, who comes to life in the middle of the dessert and begins his journey. When I first saw the tyre move, I immediately laughed out loud as it is probably the most ridiculous concept ever put to screen. Also, it is not mentioned in the movie, but apparently our lead is called Robert. So, Robert (the tyre) comes across various objects in the sand and immediately shows an affection for violence, with some genuinely good use of visual storytelling. He tests his strength by breaking a plastic bottle, then takes it to a more sinister level by running over a scorpion. Robert then comes across a glass beer bottle that he can’t break physically, so he uses psychokinetic powers to explode the bottle.
Immediately after some great shots that silently develop our lead character, the films cuts to an audience that is watching the same film we are, and they begin to explain what we already know has happened. By treating us as naive, the film goes back on itself and loses all momentum. This happens several times throughout the movie and it is really disappointing, usually interrupting something far more interesting with amateur acting, terrible dialogue and some offensive camera work. I understand that there is a deeper meaning to these characters, that they have a satirical resemblance to us as movie-goers, but it slows the pace of the film in almost every scene, spouting lines with no real significance.
The joke gets old very quick, with Robert providing little entertainment past the 30-minute mark. We follow Robert travelling through the dessert aimlessly for a good proportion of this film, with no real direction or development to character or plot. There are some awful tracking shots that are simply there to fill time and possibly because it was easier to film using practical effects. That being said, I am genuinely interested in how the filmmakers created the effects behind Robert’s movement. Away from some obvious camera tricks, the hollow center would have made animatronics difficult and I couldn’t detect the scenes where CGI was used. But hey, maybe it’s just me…
Just when you thought this film couldn’t get more absurd, Robert wonders into a women’s motel room and, without spoiling anything, I thought this film was going to go all-the-way crazy. Unfortunately, the film plays with the idea that Robert has a love interest but doesn’t take it anywhere and we are left feeling like things could’ve been a whole lot more interesting if they had taken a page out of Team America’s book. The romantic side-plot had me considering some crazy film theories, but ultimately left me disappointed.
There was one spark of life at a later point in the film, that I am embarrassed to say actually had me immersed. I refer to a scene where the Lieutenant breaks the fourth wall again, asking all the actors to go home because none of this is real. However, everyone else in the scene is oblivious to his remarks and the scene plays out with the Lieutenant trying multiple tactics to prove his point to hilarious results. I don’t want to spoil the scene, as it was by far the most entertaining in a series of ideas that were thrown at the wall to see what sticks.
Rubber is mildly entertaining, but I recommend watching it with a group of people to get the most out of its absurdity. Is it funny? Yes. Is it a good movie? Polarising. Was it an Oscar snub? Absolutely not. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s serves its purpose of “no reason” perfectly. I give Rubber a 4/10!
P.S. This film has 69% on Rotten Tomatoes and cost $500,000 to make. Why? “No reason”
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