After a decade in the wilderness following his last film, the ill-judged Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, indie director Steven Shainberg returns with the last thing you’d expect, a genre movie, Rupture, that’s a claustrophobic slice of paranoid sci-fi/horror. 

Leaving her son with his father for the weekend, divorced single mum Renee (Noomi Rapace) has a girlie day out planned skydiving with her BFF. But on her way to meet her friend, Renee’s car is sabotaged, her tyre blowing out, marooning her by the side of the highway where a passing Good Samaritan tazers her with a stun gun, wraps her head in masking tape and throws her in the back of a van. 

Kidnapped and driven across country, soon Renee finds herself held captive in a very strange medical facility where she’s strapped to an examining table, subjected to a battery of tests and experimented on, pumped full of strange, brightly coloured drugs that cause hallucinations and physical changes by an eerily serene group of mad scientists led by Michael Chiklis and Lesley Manville. 

Escaping her cell, Renee discovers she’s not the facility’s only captive; the building is full of unlucky guinea pigs from across the country, each locked in their own private Room 101 and being subjected to their darkest fears, their own personal hells, the scientists using terror to try and trigger…what? 

Trapped like a rat in a maze with no way out, Renee finds that her kidnappers have high hopes for her, that she may be one of the lucky few test subjects able to survive the process. But to do that, she’s going to have to rupture… 

Creepy, claustrophobic and tightly controlled, Rupture hits the ground running, quickly establishing an unnerving sense of foreboding, of dread, Rapace’s Renee going about her daily life, blissfully unaware that she’s under constant observation by a sinister organisation that has plans for her, Shainberg building tension by drip-feeding us information, the audience discovering along with Renee the horror that awaits her. 

As Renee, Rapace makes for a feisty, believably capable heroine, battling to survive and return to her son against the odds and there’s strong support from Chiklis, Manville, Peter Stormare and the glacial Kerry Bishe as the wonderfully creepy, unnaturally placid kidnappers, Chiklis’ unnervingly tactile mad scientist rubbing his cheek against Rapace’s and commenting on her “interesting skin” while Bishe is a study in frosty poise, her calm, clinical, dispassionate mask occasionally slipping to reveal an almost evangelical zeal for her work. 

The true stars of the film however are Director of Photography Karim Hussain and Production Designer Jeremy Reed who along with Shainberg create a cloying, organic atmosphere, a ruddy, fleshy, colour palette that’s oppressive, the lurid labyrinth of the laboratory eschewing the expected greys and blues of sci-fi in favour of a vivid, nightmarish dreamscape that allows Shainberg to chart the same terror that fascinates Rupture’s antagonists. 

While it’s ultimate destination is something of an anticlimax, Rupture is a tense, unnerving experiment in fear.

Horror Channel Frightfest review: Rupture
4.0Overall Score
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