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The Rats (2002) – DVD Review



Written by: Tommy Lee Wallace
Directed by: John J. Lafia
Starring: Vincent Spano, Madchen Amick


  • Making-of Featurette

Released by: 20th Century Fox
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it.

A high-end New York City department store has a problem — rats. Lots of them. They’ve hired an exterminator who specializes in this clever and prolific adversary to dispatch them, but he discovers that the problem reaches much further than first assumed. When the body count mounts, the battle between man and rat becomes more and more intense, raging beneath the streets of New York. Before it is too late, our heroes must determine not only why these rats are specifically hearty, but also how to kill them before they breed out of control and render New York devoid of humanity, as well as just about any other species the rats could eat.

[ad#longpost]The plot is about what you would expect of a “mutant animal” film, but this one is actually rather fun to watch. If you do not have a phobia about rats, then you’ll enjoy watching these rodents frolic through their high class digs and hide in the walls from the exterminator sent to destroy them. They are as clever as they should be, and the fact that they are modified lab rats isn’t overplayed. If you do have a rat phobia, then your worst nightmares will be realized in scene after scene of bloody, creepy rodent goodness.

The acting is mediocre, but good enough to seem real. Vincent Spano does a good job of convincingly portraying a man with the difficult task of stopping an enemy he can barely find. His respect of the rats while he’s trying to curtail their breeding adds an unexpectedly deep touch to what would otherwise be a stock horror flick. Amick’s character is rather irritating at first, but then grows into a more likable character.

The making-of featurette deserves a special mention. Given that this film was not exactly a blockbuster, it is particularly refreshing to see the quality documentary added to this disc. The featurette covers special effects, but the real star is of course the rats and their intrepid trainer. We see how they were induced to climb all over the actors, when rats are by nature rather shy and not exactly violent. The logistics of the subway scenes alone are marvelous and timed perfectly.


The audio and video quality are both good, especially given how dark horror films usually are, and this one is no exception. You will still see every drop of blood and every rat-infested wall in perfect detail, as well as enjoy the creepy squeaks and skittering you can’t quite pinpoint. I would have liked a better look at the main nest, but that’s a special effects decision that I can at least understand.

Overall, if you love monster movies or mad animal movies, like The Birds or Alligator, then you’ll enjoy The Rats. It is a fun film to watch on Halloween or when you just want something amusing and just creepy enough to be interesting. Don’t expect high drama or social commentary, but you will get an entertaining evening’s black-furred, sharp-toothed, and scratchy-clawed diversion.

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