I had a difficult time fully understanding what more enthusiastic fans saw in the recent horror cheapie The Void (besides its incredible special effects craft), but I think I found my ideal version of that film’s aesthetic in Rupture. Like with The Void, there’s nothing in Rupture that hasn’t technically been pulled off better, both artistically & financially, in higher profile films that arrived before it. Specifically, Rupture film feels like a mashup of Martyrs & A Cure for Wellness, except boiled down to the production values of a late 90s episode of Outer Limits. Despite its inherent cheapness (or maybe because of it, knowing me) and its The Void level of objectively terrible acting & dialogue, I was wholly won over by Rupture as a low-key VOD horror charmer. It’s an efficient little slice of modern schlock that deliberately bites off more than it can chew thematically, but easily gets by on both visual style and the over-the-top absurdity of its basic premise.
Noomi Rapace (of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, sorta) stars as a tough-skinned, fiercely independent single mom struggling to navigate the frustrated anger of the two men in her life: her teenage son and her ex-husband. After dropping off her son with his dad for the weekend, she is promptly abducted by a mysterious organization that tackles, tases, duct tapes, and handcuffs her into compliance. As she works on escaping and uncovering the identities of her captors, Rupture threatens to devolve into an array of genres that have already been exploited to death: abduction thrillers, Women in Captivity horror, torture porn, etc. Thankfully, it reaches for much more deliriously pulpy territory. Rupture is not traditional torture porn so much as psychological torture porn. As our hero & her fellow abductees are tormented with their greatest fears (heights, snakes, spiders, etc.), the film feels like a dirt cheap mockbuster version of Martyrs, where the next step of human evolution can be unlocked by science & fear. Rupture‘s genre film thrills are fortunately a lot less brutal & less gendered than they are in Martyrs, however, keeping the mood consistently light and enjoyably bizarre.
Director Steven Shainberg, who also helmed the BDSM cult classic Secretary, crafts a slick schlock aesthetic here, framing the film with a ludicrous comic book eye, as if it were a sequel to Sam Raimi’s Darkman. Giant syringes full of florescent liquid & futuristic Science Goggles™ recall 1950s B-pictures and the 1980s horrors that payed homage to them. Not all of Rupture is light, trashy, fun. I cringed through a few of Noomi Rapace’s awkwardly delivered interactions with her fellow captives, but the mysterious organization who tortures them for a triggered evolution is bursting with excellent performances from skilled character actors. Michael Chiklis, Peter Stormare, and Lesley Manville (who was a villainous joy on the first season of Harlots) are all effectively creepy as Rapace’s tormentors while still aligning their performances with the film’s overarching cheapness. I got genuine chills and light-hearted giggles when these villains would tenderly stroke Rapace’s cheek and mutter tenderly, “Interesting skin,” between experiments/torture sessions. It took me back to the old tonal victories in horror cheapies like Tobe Hooper’s Invaders from Mars, a deceptively difficult balance to strike between genuine terror & comic book absurdity.
I can’t tell you exactly why I was totally on-board with the horror film nostalgia of Rupture (and, looking further back, Clown) while the similar thrills of The Void left me largely cold. Maybe it’s because the mood was lighter. Maybe I’m that much of a sucker for intense horror movie lighting and was easily won over by Shainberg’s use of colorful reds, blues, and yellows, which gave the film the sheen of a forgotten Creepshow segment. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Shainberg’s eye in general. There’s no accounting for taste, really. The dialogue & acting in Rupture are just as awkwardly weak as they are in The Void, but they did little to sour my enjoyment of the film as a bargain bin mashup of A Cure for Wellness & Martyrs. The film is too much of a trashy delight to be sunk by something as trivial as subpar character work or embarrassing line deliveries. Those faults rarely ruined our appreciation of the 80s & 90s VHS horrors or the 1950s horror comics the film tonally resembles either, so there’s really no reason to let them get in the way now.