A disappointingly weak adaptation of James Herbert's nasty novel of the same name, this plodding movie strings together a number of passable action sequences of people being attacked by giant rats with some dull characterisation involving everyday run-of-the-mill characters that it's difficult to care two hoots about. The movie has a cold, clinically detached feel to it which oddly seems to be the case with most horror movies filmed in Canada - check out Cronenberg's early work if you don't believe me. This opinion comes from a big fan of monster movies, too, so be prepared to rate it even lower if you're not a fun of such fare. From the twelve minute (!) pre-credit sequence to the supposedly shocking freeze-frame of a papier-mâché rat "head" lunging at the camera at the end of the film, you won't find much to shock or terrify you with this movie. It may just send you asleep though. While the rat attack sequences are undoubtedly the highlights of the movie and contain some nicely gory touches, most are filmed in too-dark locations to disguise the fact that the oversize rats are simply dogs dressed in rat costumes. I know that the film got a lot of stick for having dogs as the villains, but for me the effect is pretty realistic in long-shot. The increasingly bizarre murders are initiated by a genuinely shocking attack on a young baby, followed by an old man, a professor, a kid in a bowling alley and even patrons of a cinema (showing GAME OF DEATH of all things) getting chewed by the pesky rodents. Events culminate with the rats loose in a subway and a train containing the mayor and guests of an official opening party breaks down and everybody gets bloodily massacred. The film's token hero, his love interest, and child find themselves besieged by the ravenous critters before escaping with the help of a well-timed explosion, and then the film just suddenly freeze-frames at a downbeat moment with no finalisation or epilogue to finish it off. It looks like they ran out of film! The lack of appealing characters really hurts the film too, and makes it difficult to care. Sam Groom, the film's lead, is a good actor but his teacher, while well characterised, is just boring and ordinary and displays little heroic tendencies. The rest of the unknown cast are okay, but nobody really shines with the exception of token star Scatman Crothers, who ends up being just as unlucky as he was in THE SHINING. Even the gore effects, while nicely bloody, are only shown in quick glimpses perhaps to disguise the low budget. I found this to be a watchable film but a distinctly unimpressive one which is already beginning to fade from my memory, despite the fact I only watched it yesterday. I'm sure that in a week's time all I'll have will be a fleeting memory...
Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller
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Contaminated grain breeds overgrown, killer rats in this Golden Harvest production. Dachshunds were dressed up as rats for the special effects.
December 18, 2021