(2003) dir. Glen Morgan
As I stuck this DVD into my machine at home and settled back on the couch to watch this, I began to wonder exactly why I had even put this film on my list of films to watch. As a youth, I’d seen the 1971 original from which this film was adapted/”re-made.” I never found it to be anything special. So, why did I rent this?
There is a potentially subversive core here, in a love triangle between a man (Willard) and two rats (Socarates and Ben). Friendless Willard finds a soulmate in a rat, which has a weird perversity about it in itself. The relationship verges on the sexual, though maybe it’s a Michael Jackson type of sexuality in which the friends merely “share a bed” nightly. Ben, the big, evil-looking rat, the leader of the rats, seeks a similar relationship with Willard, but is spurned. And like a cinematic jealous lover, Ben seeks Willard’s demise and downfall.
Willard’s character is cast as vaguely homosexual, as Ben and Socrates are both clearly male, and Willard’s one human pursuer, a female co-worker, is spurned with utter ambivalence. I don’t know if this casts some negativity on the portrayal, or if this is just pure “over-read” on my part. This notion did come to mind.
Willard was not bad. It might have been more interesting in the hands of someone like David Lynch or someone with his proclivities. In the end, the character of Willard was so sympathetic and his boss was so unlikeable, that you’re not sure how you are supposed to feel as Willard turns against the rats.