Midnight Madness

Rats

Morgan Spurlock

Rats 01

Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) takes us on an unnerving (and sometimes grisly) globe-trotting journey to explore different cultures’ methods of controlling, killing, or profiting off the common rat.

Behind the walls, under the floorboards, in sewers and attics and all the dark and shadowy corners that we're afraid to peer into, they live. Diabolically clever scavengers equipped with razor-sharp front teeth and a fearsomely fast ability to reproduce, rats are resilient survivalists who scurry through our cities bringing viruses and fear. The unnerving new doc from Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) follows rat killers and researchers as they take us into the terrifying world of these hardy creatures that are becoming poison-resistant, disrupting the food chain, and potentially leading us toward an ecological nightmare.

Are there more rats in New York City than people? Ed Sheehan, a 40-year veteran of the pest-control game, speculates that this may well be the case — and this is only one of many grisly possibilities that Rats considers. While exterminators work to trap the wily creatures in the urban jungle, scientists study rats' bodies for the parasites that live within them, trying to discover the pathogens that the rodents may be carrying in places like post-Katrina New Orleans. From this chilly, clinical environment we then travel to the gory rat-hunting grounds of the idyllic Berkshire countryside — where rat control has inadvertently become a sport, thanks to a natural enemy of rats who happens to be man's best friend — and on to Cambodia, where a rat catcher balances cages holding hundreds of little squealers on his motorcycle and sells them to a Vietnamese buyer who takes them across the border to meet a curious fate.

At times shockingly graphic (warning!: furry vermin die in this film, on camera) and always nail-bitingly entertaining, Rats is guaranteed to make you double-check under your bed, behind your fridge, and in the cupboard before settling in for an uneasy sleep.

COLIN GEDDES

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