This is a film about a psychokinetic, homicidal rubber tyre. If you can take that seriously enough to watch it, you’ll be rewarded.
This is an amazing film. I just wanted to get that out of the way, before I continue, because for some, this movie will instantly look like mindless dross, and it’s so much smarter than that. In fact, if more comedy horror like this appeared on the market, I’d be a happier filmgoer.
The premise is this: a group of strangers are out in the desert, watching the entire narrative play out via binoculars. It’s an odd framing device, but it definitely sets the tone for how humorously self-referential Rubber is. Through the audience, the viewer has their questions answered for them. Namely, “a tyre? Are you f@%&ing serious?”
The tyre is cute. It’s small, rolls fairly slowly, drinks from puddles and loves watching the Indy 500. Unfortunately, it’s also a big fan of blowing things up using only the power of its mind. Which is does often, replete with sound effects straight out of The Thing.
Director Quentin Dupieux (aka Mr Oizo, the house music producer and musician) doesn’t want you to take this seriously. This is a film that highlights everything that’s wrong with the horror genre, whilst somehow being better than what’s currently on offer anyway.
Because it doesn’t incorporate serious characters, or attempt to imbue some sort of message, Dupieux allows himself room to focus on the quality of the work itself, something many horror filmmakers would do well to note. His other speciality, in addition to writing, editing and directing the film, is the cinematography, and this is crucial when shooting The Little Tyre That Could.
It’s something I kept wondering, the whole time. I’m aware of how much we’ve advanced in the field of indie-accessible, passable-quality CGI, but I couldn’t stop wondering how they got the tyre to move by itself. Sure, in some shots it’s cleverly hidden from view to some degree, with (I’m imagining) the work experience kid rolling the little thing across dusty American highways. But sometimes it turns and gets up again, all by itself – things that seem difficult to do with wires. The secrets behind these special effects are something they’ve neglected to divulge on a DVD special feature, and I was disappointed to realise that they wanted to keep the magic to themselves.
The tyre is also subject to a bizarre law – that the story of its bloody journey across the land will finally stop when all the audience members (those folks with the binoculars) aren’t watching anymore. But of course, when one person does keep watching, things very swiftly go to hell for the few members of the cast aware that they’re in some sort of story.
The film is full of choice lines, notably a brilliant (if not one of the best) monologue at the beginning that’s so smart, witty and Tarantino-esque that you can’t help but smile as it plays out in front of you. It’s a film that’s a joy to watch, and I’d happily see it again, especially in a cinema, just to see other people’s reactions to such a unique, funny idea.
That, and there’s a sequel implication. I live in hope.