Noomi Rapace (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) is the perfect choice to play the heroine in this action-packed sci-fi horror film. Her emotive face expresses both her relationship with son and ex-husband in the establishing scenes in the beginning of the film, and then outright terror when she is kidnapped by a cult and placed under forced experimentation only a little while later. In fact, the entire casting is stellar in this film from director Steve Shainberg (SECRETARY), with Michael Chiklis, Lesley Manville, and Peter Stormare all playing roles as lab testers who are appropriately creepy. Where it starts to unravel a bit is in the plotting and the pacing.
When Renee Morgan (played by Rapace) first arrives at the abandoned warehouse where experiments are to be conducted on her, the chilling atmosphere plays a character in itself. As she undergoes her first series of tests, one of which uses a fear of spiders referenced earlier in the film against her,the audience is kept in the dark as much as the main character. During this sequence the film recalls other great torture flicks like AUDITION and HOSTEL. Renee is desperate to understand why they are doing this to her, having received only a few cryptic clues including a genetic sequence from another prisoner, and to get back to her son. Then, ever the tough woman of action, she manages to escape and crawls down the seemingly endless maze of a ventilation system.
While initially fascinating, expanding the environment and showing other prisoners of the lab who are subjected to their worst fears, the part of the film with Renee’s escape becomes long and monotonous as she navigates a few different routes that lead to nowhere and wakes up where she started from none the wiser. We know no more than she does at this point in the film, and the viewer becomes just as eager as she is for more information about why she and the other prisoners are being held here and what the tests reveal.
When the resolution to the experiments does come, it adds a bizarre sci-fi twist that seems a little out of place with the rest of the film. This sequence also contains some unimpressive CGI and what seems like an abrupt narrative exposition from the testers. It’s hard to say what the script may have benefited from, but fleshing out Renee’s character more in the beginning and doling out information more slowly may have helped the film’s overall impact.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to admire in Shainberg’s film, which is his first in ten years. It aims for a lot with a high concept and a blending of genres, which is daring even if it doesn’t pay off. In its lab, it manages to create a labyrinthine house of horrors, and the peek into the differing subjects’ torture and Renee’s circular journey expands on this and helps the audience envision a never-ending nightmare chamber of their worst fears being used against them. RUPTURE is worth a watch for the elements that work, and especially for fans of Noomi Rapace, who will relish seeing her in another incredibly strong role for women in a dark film.