Totally original. Not a re-tread.
It took an entire car to power Stephen King’s Christine, a horror novel about a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury that runs murderously amok. The considerably lower-budgeted Rubber wittily makes do with a single – and ferociously single-minded – car tire. It doesn’t just hit the road, it also wobbles and weaves and executes a diabolically jaunty victory lap, leaving a long bloody smear in its increasingly brutal wake.
This being a conceptual horror flick, the tire also runs wild while some onlookers play the Greek chorus and in-house audience both, commenting on the movie as it happens. ‘It’s already boring,’ says one. Nope – it isn’t.
What makes the tire kill? The French writer and director (and cinematographer and editor), Quentin Dupieux, working with an English-speaking cast and his mute rubber star, has an explanation. Shot in an atmospherically desolate pocket of the Mojave Desert in Southern California, the movie opens with a question mark: a car driving into some chairs on a road. After knocking each chair over, the car comes to a stop and a cop, Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella), scrambles out of the trunk. Facing the camera, he begins asking – and answering – a few questions involving movie logic. Why, for instance, does no one use the bathroom in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre? The answer in each case, Chad says, is ‘no reason.’
It’s a clever move because, by embracing irrationality as his operating principle (or at least by pretending to), Mr. Dupieux lets himself off the narrative hook.
— Manohla Dargis, The New York Times