The first thought that occurred to me while watching Rubber is that the filmmakers were clearly inspired by David Lynch. The movie begins with a drawn-out, odd scene where one of the main characters breaks the fourth wall (kind of). He explains to the audience that sometimes things happen in movies for no reason--they are not explained,nor do they necessarily need to be explained. He sets the table for absurdity of the story you are about to see, which involves a killer tire that possesses psychic powers and terrorizes a small town.
Rubber succeeds on a couple of levels. First, the movie manages to imbue a tire with a personality, and make it an interesting character. Secondly, the movie constantly plays with the fourth wall and raises questions about whether or not a story even exists if there’s no audience.
The movie also struggles on a couple of levels. While it’s billed as a horror movie, there are very few moments of actual tension. Once the characters and the basic storyline are established, the story falls into a pattern that it pretty much repeats for the rest of the movie. I also felt that the filmmakers kept trying to remind you how absurd the whole premise of the movie is, instead of just letting the story speak for itself. A good example of this is the opening scene that I mentioned above. It’s almost like the filmmakers are trying to stave off any criticism of the story by telling you that it’s OK that there’s no reason for any of this to be happening. I felt like this was unnecessary, because if I’m watching a movie about a killer tire, I’ve already signed up for a ride on the crazy train. You don’t need to tell me the story is absurd--I expect it to be.
I think the positives far outweigh the negatives for Rubber though, and I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s nice to see a film that does something completely different, and for that alone, Rubber is worth your time.
4 out of 5 Tire Uprisings