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Jason Widgington [Celluloid 07.19.16] scifi thriller mystery

Indie writer-director Steven Shainberg has never been one to stick to a single genre, hopping from crime thriller (1998's Hit Me) to kinky dark comedy (2002's criminally under-appreciated Secretary) to biographical drama (2006's Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus). Now, ten years after his last feature, Shainberg tries his hand at science fiction/horror with Rupture, a solid abduction thriller starring Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four), and Peter Stormare (Fantasia Festival favorite Bad Milo).

Rapace plays single mother Renee Morgan, whose teenaged son is prone to emotional and angry outbursts. As the audience watches them prepare for their day, we notice that, oddly, some of what we’re seeing is through the eyes of hidden surveillance cameras positioned in and around their home. After dropping her son off at his father’s for the weekend, Renee is suddenly forced off the road and quickly abducted and placed in a truck by a mysterious group of people. When they finally arrive at a dank and strangely lit facility, Renee is summarily locked up in a sort of holding cell full of medical tools.

I know this all sounds pretty run-of-the-mill to this point, but it’s her captors who make it interesting. Who are they? What do they want with her? Why are they cold but also somewhat benevolent? And why are they obsessed with rubbing their faces on hers?

Featuring some excellent ‘face your fear’ spider sequences, as well as a harrowing escape attempt by Renee, the true stars of Rupture are the production design of Jeremy Reed (Hard Candy) and the cinematography by Karim Hussain (Antiviral). There are little motifs to keep an eye out for, including the unbearably loud locking and unlocking of the doors and a theme of ‘threes’, as well as some truly innovative camera techniques (watch how the framing of Renee develops throughout the film) that add to the overall intensity of the situation.

Everything may get explained a little too neatly in the end, but the final scene does well enough to cover for that. So while it teeters on the edge of being ‘just another abduction story’, the spitfire performance from Rapace, some decent squirm-inducing moments, and the somewhat unique premise regarding the reason for her abduction combine to make for a sci-fi thriller that strikes a fine balance between edge-of-your-seat action and all the nerdy stuff. And that isn’t such a bad thing, is it?

Recommeded Release: CUBE

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