(2010) Horror Spoof (Magnet) Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick, Wings Hauser, Roxanne Mesquida, Ethan Cohn, Charlie Koontz, Daniel Quinn, Devin Brochu, Hayley Holmes, Haley Ramm, Cecilia Antoinette, David Bowe, Remy Thorne, Tara Jean O’Brien. Directed by Quentin Dupieux
Sometimes things happen for no reason. Never is that more evident than in the movies. Some things just occur because they need to for the plot to advance. If you think about it too much your brain explodes.
In the middle of a desert (I’ve heard tell it’s California) a group of people gather. They are waiting expectantly, for what we don’t know. Suddenly a car roars in, knocking over a bunch of chairs. From the trunk comes Lieutenant Chad (Spinella), ranting about the movies and why people don’t use the bathroom in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the answer? no reason). He then presents for the onlookers a kind of live movie which they watch with binoculars and comment regularly on the goings on.
A tire (named Robert in the credits) stirs to life, half-buried in the sand. It takes halting attempts to rise and roll, often ending with it back on its side but eventually it begins rolling. It discovers it can direct its own travels and then it also finds it can cause things to explode, starting with birds and scorpions and graduating to larger animals…and humans. In the case of humans, it’s the heads that go boom.
It finds its way to a motel where it rolls into bed, watching an exercise video. It watches a maid make up the room. It evades the cops. Why? I’m sure you can guess.
Think of a nihilistic “Seinfeld” with a Dada streak a mile long, only without the standup comedy. The humor here is far more subtle and black. The horror element is more in the gore than suspense or atmosphere. They don’t always mix well.
Dupieux, who also operates under the nom des artes of Mr. Oizo (an electro musician and performance artist) has a twisted vision which I have to give props for. It is unique and unlike any other movie which you’re ever likely to see. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it necessarily something you would want to see. The constant breaking of the fourth wall by the actors and the audience/chorus gets to be irritating after awhile, plus the constant nihilistic “let’s move the plot in unexpected directions for no reason” is often confusing and also gets annoying.
I don’t have any problem with nihilism. I don’t really have a problem for making a movie about the randomness of life. I do have a problem with stringing together a random sequence of events that takes off willy-nilly just because you can. Actions, believe it or not, have consequences. They don’t occur in a vacuum and the best movies understand that. While I appreciate the sense of silliness and the courage to try something completely different, at the end of the day I wound up not connecting to this and just kind of enduring it as it came to its end. I need a little bit more from my Art.
WHY RENT THIS: Clever idea.
WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Lacks in execution. The black comedy and horror elements don’t mesh well. At the end of the day more pretentious than outrageous.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a good deal of violence, plenty of foul language and some twisted situations that have an underlying sexuality.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Quinn, who plays one of the spectators here, also played a Scanner in Scanner Cop who was able to blow up people’s heads with the power of his mind as the tire does here.
NOTABLE HOME VIDEO EXTRAS: There is an interview with Dupieux conducted by a blow-up sex doll. Of course.
BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $100,370 on an unreported production budget; I think it might have made a profit but more likely broke even.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Howard the Duck (seriously, I couldn’t think of a single movie remotely like this).
FINAL RATING: 4/10