Steven Shainberg took a 10-year hiatus after directing Nicole Kidman in Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, his fourth feature film. Unfortunately, the break does not appear to have helped him as a filmmaker. Rupture is a sci-fi horror film that's amateurish at best. Packed with hammy dialogue, poor acting performances and an eye-rolling plot, one would be surprised to learn this is not Shainberg's first feature.
Noomi Rapace stars as Renee, a single mother who is attempting to keep the peace with her ex-husband while balancing custody of their son. The boy is struggling in school, and has a rough temper to boot (but you certainly won't do anything other than laugh when he screams the f-word and tosses his textbooks around his Degrassi-like bedroom). These suburban scenes play out like a lesser Lifetime movie complete with a Zellers-grade wardrobe and soft-lit interiors that look like model show homes.
Occasionally, we're shown that Renee is being monitored by hidden CCTV, and these voyeuristic shots add a modicum of suspense to the film's first quarter. Then, when Renee is driving to go skydiving (we also learn, in passing, that her singleness has suddenly awoken an adventurous side) a device that was placed on her tire causes it to explode. Some nice men in a work van offer to help her change the tire, but instead tackle her, cover her face in black tape and drive her for many days to an undisclosed location.
When she's unmasked, we learn that she's trapped in a nightmare hell-world where wacky scientists use their patients' worst fears to unlock an alien power within them. This process of transformation is known as… drum roll… wait for it… a "rupture." Whether it's creepy crawlies like snakes and spiders or emotional torture through pictures of abusive parents or even terrifying drops from massive heights, the kidnappers have devised sorts of half-baked plans to spook their patients into submission. For a moment, it becomes a vaguely interesting mashup of Cube and Fear Factor.
Shainberg seems hell-bent to show us his cred as a filmmaker. Despite the film's many problems, there are a handful of interesting shots littered throughout. The backdrops, too, are sufficiently retrofuturistic. Unfortunately, however, they're occasionally too on the nose — in one of the film's final scenes, for example, the wallpaper proudly and loudly displays the carpet pattern from The Shining.
Ironically, Rupture's few traditional strengths actually push it further toward mediocrity. From its second-string players (including a laughable Michael Chiklis) to its shoddy dialogue, ridiculous story and stilted acting, Rupture is as B-movie as a B-movie can get. If the film was just slightly more stupid, it would stand as a modern camp classic. Instead, it's aggravatingly dull as it works toward a dissatisfying conclusion. You'll find yourself empathizing with Renee when she's trapped in a small torture chamber, desperate to escape. (Tango)