Meet Robert, a psychopathic loon on a murderous rampage through the American outback, looking for anything to kill, absolutely anything. Nothing unusual here you say, the twist is that Robert is not human, he might not even be an alien, he's just a rubber car tyre! I know, I was taken aback and said 'Come again?' the first time i'd heard about this film, but it's true, the film is based on a murderous tyre!
Now hold on, i know what you're going to say, how is it all possible, and why a tyre? Well the film, French director Quentin Dupieux's second release, tells you everything you need to know and why within the first few minutes of the film. 'Rubber' begins with a monologue about 'No reason', delivered by Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) who's just climbed out of the trunk of a police car, to an audience of people in the desert. We soon realise that this is a film within a film, the audience are given binoculars and appear to be watching the events (that we're also watching) unfold.
We (and the spectators) see Robert, a tyre, pulling itself out of the sand, it begins to roll and collapses. It attempts movement again, goes a bit further until it collapses again, just like a child or animal learning to walk. Robert becomes confident enough to roll and control his movements. But Robert likes to squash things that get in his way; a bug, an empty plastic water bottle. When Robert encounters an object it cannot crush, he discovers that he has a telekinetic ability to explode an object. Soon a glass bottle, a crow, and a rabbit suffer the consequences of being in Robert's way. Along his travels in the American desert, Robert sees the beautiful Sheila (Roxane Mesquida) who's driving through the desert in her convertible. Robert is clearly smitten, follows her, watches Sheila take a shower in her motel room, and checks into a room next to Sheila's! Cue some hilarious scenes of Robert watching motor racing on tv, and even taking a shower himself! Robert realises his love for Sheila can never be fulfilled, so he engages on a murderous rampage, exploding the heads of anyone who stands in his way. This tyre clearly has issues!
'Rubber' is a lot of fun, with plenty of amusing horror clichés, and homages to classic horror movies of the past such as the head-exploding genius of 'Scanners' by David Cronenberg's. Robert's murderous rampage made me think of the truck in Steven Spielberg's film 'Duel' . Using an audience within the film was clever, especially when their occasional commentary mirrored our own thoughts; 'Nothing's happening', 'I'm hungry' and 'This is boring'. The cast play everything dead straight, Stephen Spinella in particular is great. I loved the scene where Lieutenant Chad was trying to describe the killer to the rest of his team, and one of the cops asked if the killer tyre was black!
The biggest problem with 'Rubber' is that this is essentially a one-joke film and that joke wears thin within half an hour, the spectators were designed to beef up the plot but it never materialised into anything. While not as scary as it could have been, 'Rubber' is still an enjoyable horror-comedy that's well worth watching and should do well on DVD and will almost certainly become a future cult classic. And you've got to love Robert, for all his failings he just wants to find that special someone/thing to settle down with like the rest of us. The great double-ending left you in no doubt that 'Rubber II: Burn Hollywood Burn' is at a cinema near you very soon!!