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Not for the squeamish!

Horror film from the man who brought us Super Size Me

19 December, 2016 — By Dan Carrier

A cigar-chomping rat catcher talking about his quarry in Rats

RATS
Directed by Morgan Spurlock
Certificate 12
☆☆☆☆

THIS is a horror film of a documentary, brought to us by Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame.

Spurlock’s brilliance as a storyteller is undisputed, so be prepared as he tackles the inside story of the rat: the creature that strikes fear into humans on an unconscious level, and is about as good as we are at dominating an environment and behaving in a way that holds little regard for other species they share their space with.

According to the film, rats have been in America for 250 years, and originally came from Asia. They came across the Atlantic to the New World and, as one rat catcher puts it, “spread the same way people spread”.

Set in Manhattan, we learn a series of startling facts about these creatures: the tell-tale signs are all around us – and it is a question of being trained to spot them. With interviews with rat catchers who speak like they are stars in Goodfellas, we are offered homilies about this extraordinarily resistant creature.

“There is a lot of garbage here – you put your garbage out, the rats come,” says one. “Imagine if every night at 6pm someone came and gave you food, why would you leave?”

Then we are treated to scare stories galore: how they like to swim up toilets, use their pee and poo to talk to each other, how they twist as they bite you to inflict maximum damage, how they can squeeze through any gap “like jello”, they get everywhere, they breed like the clappers, they spread a stack of ugly diseases and you can’t get rid of them.

This is a war of attrition, the rat killers versus the rats. As the catchers say: “Every time you jump one way, they jump the other, these are very sophisticated diabolically clever animals.”

Some parts are thoroughly stomach-turning, including dissection scenes where the parasites and worms these creatures carry are dragged from their insides by tweezers.

Don’t plan to eat after watching this movie for some time, especially not at your favourite takeaway. This is an entertaining and scary documentary about an extraordinary creature we share our cities with. It prompts the question – do we find them so spectacularly distasteful because, deep down, they share many characteristics with ourselves?

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