For some people the basic concept of Rubber might be a bit too far fetched – an apparently sentient tyre goes on a killing spree using it’s telepathic powers to explode people’s heads. For people like me though that’s just one of many things I worry about that keep me from going outside and it’s about time someone made a film about them. It’s one of those ideas that seems so obvious once someone has said it and you can’t imagine why someone hasn’t done it before – I am sure all the great directors are looking at their back catalogues and face-palming when they see how they have missed such an obvious plot. Who needs Taxi Driver when you could just have Taxi Wheel?
So the tire, named Robert, is the star here – though it (he?) doesn’t say anything because it is a tire. It’s still a decent performance from the first time lead who conveys itself with impressive gravitas and bearing all things considered. The special effects are equally impressive:Robert genuinely seems to be able to roll around on it’s own – low budget films like this with such impressive special effects really do make you wonder where the budget went on Avatar. In all seriousness, the film is genuinely well shot, directed and acted. Oh and the music is really good – by Mr. Oizo who I vaguely remember being a yellow muppet thing.
Actually though, the film is not especially funny which was a bit of a surprise as that was what I was expecting – I think for most people the plot outline is as much of a joke as they are going to get. There are a few other joke sure – especially at the end – but Rubber is not really a comedy. And obviously it’s not really a horror with the world’s cheapest rubber monster suit. What it is is hard to say: it’s a celebration of Dadaism – a rejection of logic (the film’s repeated message that things happen for ‘no reason’) – in fact the film is basically an assemblage, essentially an assortment of random things.
And then there is the fact that the film is a parody of horror/action ‘b’ movies – it operates at a meta level, often breaking the fourth wall and even representing the audience on-screen as a Greek chorus that come to watch the tire, and a fellow on a bike trying to sell them the film that must represent a studio executive. Then there is the policeman (representing the director?) who is aware he is in a film and at one point thinks it has ended when it hasn’t really. This leads to jokes like the studio executive guy feeding the audience (representing different cinema-going demographics) a turkey (a term for a flop at the box office). More meta jokes than actual jokes as it were, though they improve towards the end when, with frustration, the film is forced to go through more horror movie cliches and tropes when they really just want it to be over.
I have to admit I found the film a little smug and self-satisfied, it’s as if it was constantly shouting ‘I’m just pretending to be stupid, there is lots of clever stuff happening!’ It’s a little annoying, even though I just realised I want to get a t-shirt that says that. And though really any film about a killer tire is going to struggle to really come up with an engaging storyline. I think most people that see this film would be expecting something radically different, something that the hilarious adverts and trailer do not really represent which is a bit of exploitative marketing in my book. But then that is the joke really: we are the audience being fed the turkey, what did you expect? You aren’t meant to last to the end.
If that sounds interesting then watch it: it’s basically aimed at media studies students like you. Most normal people would probably be better off avoiding.