Rupture Review: Noomi Rapace delivers a solid performance in this allegorical, torture-heavy horror movie
Actress Noomi Rapace made an international splash when she starred as the bisexual, urban warrior Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish quasi-giallo thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels. And while Rooney Mara made a fine incarnation of the character in David Fincher’s rock-solid American remake, she lacked the natural otherworldly, androgenous beauty of Rapace. There was just something magnetic and animal like about the actress in that film and it’s been a joy to see her unique physical presence employed in numerous American films, from Brian De Palma’s underrated Passion to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. And yet lately, despite the fact that she seems perpetually employed, it’s rare to find a director who has faith enough in her to carry an entire film. Which is one of the reasons Rupture is such a dark, kinky treat.
Rupture does indeed star Rapace as a divorced single mother who is decent of mind and spirit and who is inexplicably subjected to unimaginable horrors. She’s magnificent in the role but she’s enabled by a great director, Steven Shainberg, who is seemingly so in love with her that he ensures she’s in virtually every frame of his film. Shainberg did a similar thing with Maggie Gyllenhaal in his magnificent and bizarre allegorical S&M romance/satire Secretary, worshiping her and giving her ample space to push her boundaries as a performer. And while Secretary did position itself as a kinky comedy about sexual and professional domination and submission in the workplace, it was really a horror movie in hiding. Rupture, however, makes no pretense to be anything else. It’s a horror film, full stop. And a very weird and very smart one at that. And, like Secretary it too trades in sado-masochism to pump its thrills.
The film sees Rapace’s Renee drop her son off at her a**hole ex-husband’s house and, while en route to work, blowing a tire on a barren highway. Unbeknownst to her, the tire pop is a trap, instigated by remote control by a vehicle in pursuit. As Renee pulls over, a van follows and a man gets out to assist her, before tackling her, drugging her and duct-taping her in the back of his van where she is then whisked away to a stinking, industrial prison overseen by a cabal of “doctors” led by The Shield‘s Michael Chiklis. Struggling to make sense of he shocking predicament, Renee hears the tortured screams of her fellow, unseen prisoners and soon she finds herself strapped to a gurney, smothered in Mario Bava-steeped stress-lighting and subjected to “extreme terror”; tortures that exploit her phobias (especially her admitted arachnophobia) with the aim to inspire a kind of “transformation.” Attempts at escape don’t end well and by the time the great Peter Stormare shows up delivering hissed monologues, the movie has crossed the point of “normal” and transcends into something else entirely, something deranged and unique and certainly not for all tastes.
The average viewer looking for a horror movie to pass the time will be entertained by the film’s freakishness and FX, but more esoteric audiences, especially those familiar with Shainberg’s Secretary and his equally arch Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, will thrill to what is in essence a feminist parable about a woman confronting her fears and using them to become empowered. Just be warned that it’s a parable laced with sexual humiliation, spiders, injections of all kinds in all spaces and of course… the revolting and over-the-top rupture of the title. And hey, it sets itself up for a sequel, which I would absolutely welcome. If Rapace comes back, of course.
Rupture opens in theaters and VOD and Digital HD tomorrow. See it.