Rubber ★★★

Is the joke of this movie that it’s about a murderous tire, or is the joke that it’s a movie that fulfills everything we would expect from a movie about a murderous tire? Put another way, this absurdist horror comedy conscientiously bucks the pattern for how famous (or infamous) B-movies can lodge themselves in the popular imagination: they’re very often about something else entirely but along the way they incidentally—or even accidentally—include some crazy hook, like a murderous tire, in the plot for say five minutes. The studio seizes upon that tiny tidbit, recognizes the perverse genius of highlighting a murderous tire,  and proceeds to market the hell out of it. The plot, whatever else it was about, is no longer relevant to the way the public receives the picture; from there on out, it’s just that movie about a murderous tire, and the poster and the slogan and all the advertising reflects that.

“Rubber,” on the other hand almost assuredly started with the hook “What if there was a murderous tire?” and then everything else in the whole damn movie was built around supporting that flagrantly unsubtle concept, top to bottom, bow to stern. So we get plenty of murdering by a tire, and a surrounding universe of simultaneously craven and idiotic bystanders in that tire’s world, all tempting the tire to murder again and again, in one way or another. It’s kind of repetitive and decidedly shallow, but it’s also kind of hilarious and fascinating to watch unfold. You keep thinking, “Wait, is this really just about a murderous tire?” The answer is YES, and in a not-bad way, too. In the end you find yourself marveling at the fact that they managed to make a whole movie about a murderous tire that more or less fulfills every wish of fans of murderous tire movies.

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