Starring: Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser, Robert The Tyre
“My God, the kid was right. The killer was the tyre.” (Liutenant Chad, Rubber)
Slasher movies often have bizarre killers. Child’s Play has a possessed doll, A Nightmare On Elm Street features a dream demon and Sleepaway Camp’s killer… well, that would be ruining it. Rubber blows them all away with easily one of the oddest villains in movie history – a rubber tyre.
For no reason whatsoever (something reinforced in no uncertain terms during the film’s opening monologue), the film mostly follows a car tyre happily rolling down a desert road, killing anything it meets. At first it simply crushes things – a scorpion, for example – but soon it encounters a plastic bottle and realises that not everything can be destroyed by rolling over it. This is when it shows its hidden ability, the ability to make things explode using the power of its mind.
As it continues its trail of destruction the tyre starts offing humans as well, using its psychokinetic powers to make their heads explode in a shower of brains and gore. Why? It’s never explained.
As fun as the concept for Rubber is, it would be very difficult to make something like this last for 80 minutes on its own. That’s why there’s a bizarre sub-plot involving a crowd of people all standing in the desert, using binoculars to watch the same movie we’re watching. They discuss things that don’t make sense (in one scene the tyre rolls into a swimming pool and sinks to the bottom, at which point the group start arguing about the physics and whether it should have floated), they talk about what they think will happen next, and they generally add a bit of much-needed personality to a film where the mute main character is limited to rolling and making things explode.
It’s an unusual decision but a fun one too. It shows that the film realises the story of the rolling tyre makes very little sense, which is why this crowd of people are just as bemused as us, and when the joke starts to run thin they’re disposed of in a silly manner, allowing us to focus on the tyre again as it starts to outrun the police.
Rubber is a truly unique film, and one you really need to see to appreciate. There are times when the pacing is too slow and the ending leaves a lot to be desired, but get a few people who know nothing about it together and give it a watch and you’ll all be laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing is. Rubber is proof that any actor, no matter how lifeless, can play a lead roll (sorry).