'Rupture': Fantasia Review

Rupture Still - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Fantasia International Film Festival

Rupture Still - Publicity - H 2016

An enjoyable captivity thriller unconcerned with the occasional plot hole.

Noomi Rapace tries to escape from mad scientists before they turn her into a monster.

Ten years after his budding indie career took a left turn with the ambitiously loony Diane Arbus bio-misfire Fur, Secretary director Steven Shainberg returns with a sci-fi hostage picture whose personal quirks are well assimilated into genre conventions. As a woman forced to be the guinea pig in icky science experiments, Noomi Rapace leads a cast with enough familiar names to attract attention; though this turns out to be more of a one-woman show than a roster boasting Michael Chiklis, Peter Stormare and Lesley Manville would suggest, the action suffices to entertain viewers who can get past a couple of oh-come-on-now plot contrivances.

Rapace plays Renee, whose home is full of hidden surveillance cameras. Is she being watched by her angry ex-husband? Before we find out, she is kidnapped, driven cross-country and locked in an abandoned office building that has been turned into a makeshift medical facility.

She's strapped to an examining table by unidentified creeps who pay special attention to her "interesting skin," pump her full of a strange chemical and do what they can to scare her out of her mind. "I just know she's going to rupture," one says, hinting at the transformation at the heart of this big experiment.

Then the examiners leave Renee alone so they can attend to patients we hear screaming in nearby rooms. Good thing she put a knife in her back pocket this morning, saying something about doing electrical repairs in the kitchen but instead leaving for a day trip.

Unlikely escape aside, Renee's ensuing journey through the building's ductwork lets Rupture have fun while slowly revealing the nature of this place: Her captors are trying to use fear to trigger mutations, but most subjects don't survive the transformation. Got it, thanks. But explain again why Renee races back to her cell and puts her restraints back on instead of continuing to look for a way out of here?

The mention of hallucinations as a possible side effect of Renee's medication suggests one way the script might justify some of this — and the movie's wink-wink appropriation of the famous carpet pattern from The Shining further suggests we shouldn't trust all that we see. But Shainberg plays things pretty literally in the end, hoping we'll just ignore some of this little stuff.

Though well assembled in most respects (and going all-out in its creepy-bunker production design), Rupture drops the ball when it comes to depicting its eponymous transformation. The CGI work here would have looked cheesy even if this Fantasia premiere hadn't come immediately after a documentary, The Frankenstein Complex, that showcased some of the best creature-FX designers in movie history.

Venue: Fantasia Film Festival
Distributor: AMBI Distribution
Production company: Tango Pictures
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare, Kerry Bishe, Michael Chiklis, Lesley Manville, Percy Hynes White
Director: Steven Shainberg
Screenwriters: Brian Nelson, Steven Shainberg
Producers: Monika Bacardi, Andrea Iervolino, Andrew Lazar, Steven Shainberg, Christina Weiss Lurie
Director of photography: Karim Hussain        
Production designer: Jeremy Reed        
Costume designer: Linda Muir
directors: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey    

Not rated, 100 minutes