RUPTURE: A Massively Mishandled Mystery
Two great performances are wasted in Rupture, a mess of a horror movie which sets up mysteries it doesn't even know how to answer.
Any film that centres itself around a mystery undertakes a difficult dance. If it reveals its secrets too early, there’s the risk of losing the audience’s interest. But if the secrets are withheld for too long, it puts potentially insurmountable pressure on their eventual reveal to be something spectacular. It’s hard to get the balance right. But to get it as wrong as Rupture takes quite some skill.
We meet Renee (Noomi Rapace) on just another one of the normal mornings in her normal life. She’s the single mum to a teenage son, Evan (Percy Hynes White), with whom she gets on well, despite her fears about his problems at school. Her relationship with his father (Paul Popowich) is strained, but not to any unusual degree (remember, she is normal). The one thing that is unusual about her life are the hidden cameras that are watching every mundane minute of it.
This is a movie that’s in love with foreshadowing. Early in the film we are treated to a klaxon-blaringly portentous shot, as Renee slips the X-ACTO knife she’s been using to sort out a lighting problem into her back pocket. Aside from being one of the most blatant attempts at foreshadowing in living memory, it’s also excellent product placement for X-ACTO knives (or as I like to call them, Chekhov’s X-ACTO Knives.)
Anyway, back to the film. After Renee drops her son off at his dad’s, her tire blows out in the middle of the highway. It’s not an accident; it’s the mysterious group that have been watching her through the cameras. They soon bundle her into the back of a van. She ends up strapped to a gurney in a room in an anonymous industrial bunker. She can hear the screams of her fellow captives through the roomy vents. An array of mysterious baddies (Lesley Manville, Peter Stormare, Kerry Bishé and Michael Chiklis) ask her an array of mysteriously mundane questions, but it’s not until she whips out our old friend the X-ACTO Knife that she works out what on earth is going on.
Flicker Of Hope
No beating around the bush; this is a bad film. But what makes it worse is that it starts with a tiny flicker of hope. For the first fifteen minutes, instead of some pseudo-mysterious sci-fi guff, we are tantalised with an actually involving domestic drama. Noomi Rapace is a really interesting, watchable actress. If it were possible to make you care about the increasing ridiculousness of what unravels in front of you, then she would be the one to do it.
These opening scenes, where she’s just living out a normal existence, are far more compelling then any of the rubbish that follows. The exchanges she has with Percy Hynes White (one of the best child actors I have ever seen), have the feel of honesty to them, even if the dialogue isn’t quite up there with the actors who are speaking it. I would be quite happy to watch a film about their relationship; Evan dealing with his problems at school and Renee finding her confidence again.
But this is a film that Steven Shainberg has no interest in making, and so, unfortunately, we are left with the mess that is Rupture.
‘Holding The Audience’
There’s so very much wrong with Rupture. It’s hard to know where to start. On a basic level, the film looks grim. Not in a cool, gritty way; it looks ugly and sickly. The neon-tinge to events in the bunker is clearly going for ‘edgy’ but instead it makes the film look cheap.
But the main problem, or at least the one that dogs this film for the longest, is that difficult dance surrounding the central mystery that I mentioned earlier. Shainberg talks about it in an interview with Paste Magazine:
“The thing that interested me the most through the development of the movie was how long you can hold the audience without them knowing what’s going on.”
You can sense this experimentation, and it’s frustrating. Shainberg seems a lot more interested in how long he can ‘hold the audience’ with gimmickry and go-nowhere clues then he is at giving them anything worthy of their attention. When he eventually does give up Rupture‘s secrets, it’s no great surprise that they’re disappointing; it doesn’t ever seem to have been his goal to provide a satisfactory conclusion.
However, this pales in comparison to the very worst thing – the ending. While the reveal of the central mystery is disappointing, it isn’t catastrophically so. There have been worse revelations.
The real kicker of the end of the film is that there is no end. The final scene is an enraging set-up for a hopefully never-to-exist sequel. Until this “ending”, Rupture is just your regular schlockily bad B-movie, but the “ending” shows such disregard for the audience, it made me angry. If Rupture 2 ever shuffles it’s way into existence, it’s as big an indictment of the state of the film industry today as anything that has come before.
Despite a couple of good performances from Noomi Rapace and Percy Hynes White, the longer this film lumbers on, the more it becomes apparent that no answer to the mystery can be worth the stultifying journey. And then with the final insult of the “ending”, this film crosses the border from bad to egregiously awful. Don’t let Rupture 2 become a thing. Avoid this film at all costs.
Have you seen Rupture? What did you think?
Rupture is released in the US on April 28. All international release dates are here.
Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.