The Rats is gloriously cheesy made for TV movie that takes the reality of New York City’s rat population & adds some genetic experimentation to create a rodent problem that might just cost a lot of people their lives.
At a huge department store in the middle of New York City, a woman shopper gets bit by a rat & ends up in hospital having contracted Weil’s disease. The manager of the store, Susan is given the job of finding an exterminator who can deal with the rat problem both quickly & discreetly. She ends up hiring Jack Carver, a no-nonsense rat killing expert.
Together they uncover the mutant rat problem & attempt to warn city officials but no-one believes them. Will Susan & Jack be able to stop the rat plague before it’s too late?
It’s a story that’s been done a hundred times before but The Rats does it much better than most. It accomplishes this with 2 things… first by making both leads likable & believable; their blooming relationship never feels forced & second, for a TV movie it is filmed very well. The up close bits use real rats & the scenes that require more use CGI that is more than passable.
The film keeps the characters to a minimum giving Susan & Jack most of the screen time. It’s a smart idea as both excel as their respective characters & some of the more surprise moments are helped by their reactions.
The film has a number of these moments that used to showcase the scale of the problem without actually showing the rats. One such moment sees Jack using a device that makes rat urine glow…they follow a trail through the shopping centre until they discover rat urine all over everything! It’s done extremely well & the actual number of rats isn’t fully revealed until the final 15 minutes.
What the film does lack though are well placed moments of smaller rat attacks. There are a few but they are oddly timed & jump in scale…such as the train attack. The film is light on gore…often expecting you to imagine exactly what has taken place.
It is a film that relies on a person’s fear of rodents, especially disease carrying wild ones & it does leave you questioning just how exactly this problem could actually be fixed (hint – it isn’t really).
Fun for most of viewing time with good acting & good visuals. What it lacks in budget it makes up for in quality.