Dem Reviews: Rubber

“Rubber” is one weird-ass film. From the moment Lieutenant Chad, played by Stephen Spinella, crawls feet first out of a patrol cruiser in the middle of the desert, the film eschews the laws of traditional storytelling (or even rational thought).“Ladies and gentlemen, the film you are about to see today is an homage to the ‘no reason’ that most powerful element of style,” Spinella says. Then he pours a glass of water on the ground and walks away. Which tells you everything you need to know (and absolutely nothing) about what follows.

Ostensibly, this is a film about a tire; an animate one that rises from the desert dust with the power to explode things with its mind. It does this at regular intervals to all manner of creature. First, it’s a rabbit, then a crow. Eventually, it turns to people, leaving one bloody stump of a head after another. Willing suspension of disbelief aside, one wonders whatever happened to a tire to make it so darn angry. Then again, we already know the answer …

“Rubber” is also film about how audiences consume films (like loud, obnoxious animals, apparently). Director Quentin Dupieux doesn’t think much of movie goers, it seems. In fact, he would rather see them dead, because then he’d get the added bonus of not having to finish making his films (or this one at least). All of this is contained within a subplot, which breaks the movie’s forth wall and runs parallel to its main action. It’s a Shakespearean “play-inside-a-play” kind of deal that’s never fully developed and is interesting only to a point.

This isn’t to say that “Rubber” isn’t worth watching, just that it takes a certain level of intellectual curiosity to pick up on its finer points. Stylistically, there is an undeniable beauty in the way the camera follows as the tire lazily rolls through the desert, almost as if a child (which is pretty much all that happens for the first 15 minutes). Given a bit more camp, this could have been a solid cult-horror-flick in the vein of “Slither.” Of course, that would have killed its art-house appeal and made it a whole other movie (though maybe better).

As it is, “Rubber” IS an homage to “no reason” as Lieutenant Chad says. At that it succeeds.

You can watch “Rubber” instantly on Netflix.

When not guest reviewing films for Dumb Drum, Famous Whitewater can be found frolicking in the meadows of Fresno Famous.

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