By Rich Cline
This absurdist horror-comedy gleefully plays with how "all great films" contain an element that has no reason ("Why was E.T. brown?"). The joke is spread far too thinly, but the deadpan style and witty movie references are very funny.
on the rubbish-strewn California desert, a tyre wakes up and starts rolling, gradually finding its balance as well as psychokinetic powers of destruction.
He sleeps at night, drinks water, stalks a scorpion and then a rabbit. Giddy with success, he takes aim at human prey. And when he sees a young woman (Mesquida) showering in an isolated motel, he even falls in love. Eventually, a cop (Spinella) arrives to investigate the deaths. Over the next few days, as the murderous rampage escalates, he struggles to find inventive ways to stop this killer tyre.
This story is framed with a crowd of movie fans in the desert watching the action through binoculars, constantly offering clueless comments while looking for something to eat (road-kill pizza, anyone?). Meanwhile, writer-director Dulieux (aka music producer Mr Oizo) shoots this like a Lynchian version of The Red Balloon, anthropomorphising the tyre with a range of emotions and a droll song score. And the tyre's murderous shaking-until-something-explodes method comes from David Cronenberg's 1981 classic Scanners.
Less a surreal thriller than a knowing pastiche of both filmmaking and moviegoing, the movie constantly plays with ideas of staged authenticity. "Stop acting like this is real life," says the cop, arguing that nothing is real once the audience has passed out from food poisoning. But when they discover that one rebellious viewer (Hauser) is still conscious, they have to carry on with the increasingly implausible events. And the cast is especially good at playing with these bizarre layers of meaning.
This certainly isn't a film for anyone looking for real horror: the grisliness is played for laughs, and the postmodern approach is cerebrally aimed at cinephiles. But for a wryly ridiculous exploration of the absurdity of existence, both in real life and on the big screen, this is dryly hilarious fun. As the audience minder (Plotnick) says to the one viewer who won't play the game, "Wait all you want, there's no end!" But there is one, and it's pure genius.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 10th November 2010
Box Office Worldwide: $98 thousand
Distributed by: Magnolia Releasing
Production compaines: Realitism, Elle Driver, Arte France Cinema, 1.85 Films, Backup Films, Sindika Dokolo, Canal+
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 53 Rotten: 25
Cast & Crew
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Producer: Julien Berlan, Gregory Bernard
Screenwriter: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Thomas F. Duffy as Xavier, David Bowe as M. Hughes, Stephen Spinella as Chad, Roxane Mesquida as Sheila, Jack Plotnick as Accountant, Wings Hauser as Man in wheelchair, Ethan Cohn as Film buff Ethan, Charley Koontz as Film buff Charley, Daniel Quinn as Dad, Devin Brochu as Son, Hayley Holmes as Teenager Cindy, Haley Ramm as Teenager Fiona, Cecelia Antoinette as Black woman, Remy Thorne as Zach, Tara Jean O'Brien as Cleaning lady, Pete Dicecco as Luke, James Parks as Doug, Courtenay Taylor as Denise, Blake Robbins as Eric, Michael Ross as Truck driver, Gaspard Augé as Hitchhiker, Pedro Winter as Tires burner