Body Tests: “Rupture” begins with promise, then ruptures into silliness

Rupture (2017)
102 min., not rated (equivalent of an R).

Best known for S&M romance “Secretary” back in 2002, director Steven Shainberg (2006’s Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus”) unfortunately chose “Rupture” as his first film in a decade. From a script by screenwriter Brian Nelson (2005’s “Hard Candy”), Shainberg holds his audience for the first half, setting up a bizarre perilous situation for its protagonist, but it would mean more if the conclusion to the mystery actually paid off. Sometimes, a mystery is more interesting when it's just kept a mystery, unless the filmmakers come up with an incredible explanation. Alas, that is not the case here. Aside from ace neon-heavy cinematography by Karim Hussain (2015’s “We Are Still Here”), “Rupture” is a distinctly unsatisfying kidnapping/torture/body-horror/sci-fi thriller that devolves—or should we say rupture?—into silliness with seriously dodgy CGI straight out of a schlocky direct-to-video release circa 2002.

Ready for a girls’ weekend to go skydiving, divorced mother Renee Morgan (Noomi Rapace) drops off son Evan (Percy Hynes White) at her ex-husband’s house. When her tire blows out in the middle of the highway, it’s no accident when a pair of truck drivers stop to help her. Instead, they tase Renee to the ground, wrap her entire head with electrical tape and throw her into the back of the truck. After a few hours, Renee is wheeled on a gurney into an underground compound and surrounded by a group of strangers (including Lesley Manville, Peter Stormare, Kerry Bishé and Michael Chiklis) who proceed to make her one of several subjects for tests and experiments. By using her arachnophobia, they just might get her to “rupture.”

“Rupture” doesn’t die on the vine right away. When the film is being an abduction thriller with a mystery to keep, it is a harrowing blend of the mundane with portent and tension. Before anything seems off, foreshadowing sign posts are set up, conveniently introducing Renee’s arachnophobia in the film's opening, and there's a lingering shot of an X-Acto knife that Renee puts in her pocket (could it come in handy later on?). Still, there are individual moments that manage to be suspenseful and effectively squirmy, like when Renee crawls between rooms through a ventilation duct or when she is terrorized by some eight-legged terrors in a scarily compromising position. Then, when the dots are connected and merge with science fiction, the proceedings become rather silly, screechy, and half-baked. 

Put through the physical and psychological wringer, Noomi Rapace is very watchable and gets the viewer to worry for her, albeit mostly by default—she seems like a nice single mom—but as the film goes on, she only has to scream while strapped to a slab. No performer comes off too well here, which leaves the rest of the largely familiar-faced cast playing on the same strange, brainwashed, pod-person note throughout as Renee’s creepy captors. Who they are isn’t that difficult to figure out and the less said about their identity, the better. With the end result feeling like M. Night Shyamalan on a bad day, “Rupture” is a chore of a B-movie that brings little fear factor and almost nothing to the table.

Grade: C -