From the opening minutes of the sci-fi thriller Rupture, it’s apparent viewers are inside the world of writer/director Steven Shainberg, who became an award-winning indie film sensation with 2002’s kink masterpiece Secretary, and now he plans to spank viewers harder with this new release.
The film follows Renee Morgan (Noomi Rapace of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Prometheus), a single mom who is deathly terrified of spiders. While in route to meet up with a friend, she is violently abducted by a group of strangers, including Michael Chiklis of FX’s The Shield and Fantastic Four and Kerry Bishe, from AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire and Argo. After enduring intense yet strange questioning and examinations, some about her fear of spiders, Renee soon discovers that she is now the subject of an underground experiment headed by Terrence (Peter Stormare of The Big Lebowski, Fargo). Her captors explain to her that she has a genetic abnormality that can potentially allow her to “rupture” and reveal her alien nature, until finally Renee must find a way to escape before it is too late.
Overall, this one was quite a disappointing offering. It strangely starts off on a high-note with Shainberg, still indulging in the kinky psychosexual morass that exuded off the screen in his first two features. The film’s first-half is mostly noted for the fact that Renee, whose abduction off the highway serves as every motorist’s worst nightmare with the efficiency and speed with which her captors pull her away without anyone noticing, finds her arms and legs handcuffed at odd angles inside the back of the moving truck and then having her head wrapped in black tape leaving slits for the eyes and nose. This distinctly recalls a lot of the warped antics from his first film and really sets this one in his familiar realm.
Once we arrive at the holding cell where the group begins to work their torments on her, the film begins working on some rather stylish horror elements that turns into a much darker opus. Utilizing the fear of the unknown incredibly well with the cold, imposing layout of the lab, their calm yet seemingly hostile treatment and the continuous off-screen sounds of torture inflicted on her neighboring captive gives this a nice creepy tone that’s only enhanced once she gets questioned and tormented; which give this the film’s best moments. The unease and unnerving quality of the situation is only elevated by the actual tormenting they put her through, giving her plenty of drugs, being subjected to venomous spiders crawling over her body and ultimately leading to the truth about her alien captors. But, it all bogs down with no real sense of tension or action at all, and gore fans as well are going to be disappointed with the lack of any blood at all here.
Now, there’s still quite a lot to like here. Overall, the look of the film is quite stylish, with the containment lab they hold her in usually bathed in light purple or golden tones, giving Rupture a cold, eerie feeling to match the actions performed. There’s plenty of genuine tension from the torture scenes, which have a lot going for them. They not only feature the group performing the different questioning methods on her, but also the scenes of her going through the air ducts of the facility, is where this one gets the chance to showcase those quite effectively; especially while the use of spiders on her generates some insanely creepy moments. Even the performances are effective, with Rapace offering a nice turn from confused and quivering housewife to displaying steel-nerves in the determination of her escape attempts, while the usual torture team of Chiklis and Bische go well together in their straight-faced resolve to get to the truth of this mission.
Although these here work nicely, it does have a few nagging quibbles. The main issue here is the fact that the problem of a ‘rupture’ is clearly a major issue of the the film; we get nothing about what exactly it is or what her tormentors are trying to do with her. It’s never clear what the intent behind their search is supposed to detail, as the entire organization is a complete mystery since we get nothing about them. There’s even scenes with the aliens themselves unsure of what’s going on, and that in turn simply furthers the confusing plot here, which is always problematic in films. Likewise, the entire point of going through a rupture is never explained and all we get are what happens to those who haven’t passed their tests, rather than why that process is important, leaving this one with some confusing issues here. Still, the biggest problem is the overall bland and uneventful finale, which is lifeless, dreadful and just ends on a truly downbeat finish that really should’ve required more action to support the storyline it wanted; instead, it comes off rather troubling.
AMBI Media Group will release the sci-fi thriller Rupture in theaters and On Demand April 28, 2017. The film is currently available exclusively on DirecTV.
2.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads