Who says a tire can’t go on a killing spree and murder people with psychic powers?
Rubber begins in a desolate desert, where a man, presumably a tour guide, played by Jack Plotnick, stands at the end of a dirt road.
Soon, a police lieutenant (Stephen Spinella) arrives, and starts the film’s dialogue by addressing the camera.
In this opening address, Lieutenant Chad calls the viewer’s attention to seemingly random elements of popular movies, such as “Why is the alien brown in E.T.?”
He goes on to point out that “life itself is made up of no reason,” and that what the audience is about to see “is an homage to no reason.”
After this strange introduction, we see much of the movie through the point of view of the 10 or so spectators armed with binoculars to view the landscape.
This is when the real action begins. We see Robert, a black tire, come to life in the middle of the desert and explore his environment.
Robert soon displays his violent tendencies, however, crushing a water bottle and then a scorpion under his treads.
After several frustrating seconds, Robert stands back and begins to shake violently, emitting an ominous noise. The sound grows louder and louder and a glass bottle nearby explodes.
That’s right, not only is Robert a mean, violent tire, he’s a mean, violent tire with extreme psychic powers.
But when Robert sees an attractive French woman drive by in a convertible, he rolls off after her and the movie’s main chase begins.
A completely irreverent, occasionally stupid, yet incredibly entertaining film, Rubber plays with our sense of what is real, what is a film and what is really going on in this strange little universe. The dark humor of the movie (picture a tire sitting on an armchair in a hotel room watching NASCAR, with the bodies of several victims splattered across the room) is anything but tasteful, yet still successful.
During one particularly memorable scene, Lieutenant Chad tells all of his fellow police officers, as they investigate one of the tire’s murders, they can all stop pretending and go home to their families since all the spectators are now dead and they no longer need to put on a show.
Rubber’s direct toying with our interpretation of what’s real within the movie can have a polarizing effect: People will either love it,or absolutely hate it, which is exactly the kind of critical reception Rubber has received.
Though entertaining, the film seems to fall flat on its face in a few places.
In one extremely long scene, more than a minute long, we watch a poisoned man slowly writhe and die. Adding nothing to the film, the grotesque scene merely detracts from what was becoming a fun movie.
And although there is a fun mood in playing with the idea of “no reason,” this movie is a problem for anyone who wants to feel like they’re watching something meaningful.
Can we find a reason or meaning in a violent tire-villain rampaging across the desert? Don’t come looking for a Hollywood-style thriller in Rubber, but come with an open mind and an empty stomach and a very original film experience is ensured.