Macabre…ish Horror Review: The Rats
The Rats, 2002/ 94 min.
New York is being overrun with a massive population of rats and they are not behaving like normal rats. They attack in huge groups in retribution in response to a single rats death.
In a Manhattan department store, a customer is bitten by a rat in a dressing room and contracts a disease that lands her in the hospital. They believe she cut herself on a carpet tack but the doctor informs her that this illness did not come from a tack, more like a rodent.
In response, the store manager, Susan (Mädchen Amick), contacts the best exterminator in New York, Jack Carver (Vincent Spano). Jack and Susan start off really rocky but they get on to it and find the hole and a lot of evidence of serious rat activity. They definitely have an infestation.
So that same night, Jack, his apprentice, Ty (Shawn Michael Howard) and Susan get to work. Fluorescent lights light up the the rat urine that marks the trail of the rats who are naturally incontinent and it is everywhere, covering everything on the third floor. Jack’s recommendation is to close the store, which the manager balks at. So they compromise and decide to cordon off the area.
Meanwhile, a huge group of rats kill a man who killed a rat after it bites him and a local public pool is suddenly infested with rats. While kids are swimming the rats pour out of the vents and into the water, sending the kids fleeing.
Jack needs blue prints of the store and someone who knows every corner of the store, including the basement. And the best person for the job is Susan. She then gets a call and her daughter, Amy (Daveigh Chase), was at the pool that filled with rats. Jack is also interested. The rats are displaying odd behavior. Including the fact that a rat recently tried to gnaw itself into their window at home. He checks their house too.
As a result of the pool rat infestation, a health department administrator, Ray Jarret (David Fonteno), a former partner of Jack’s, announces that it was the work of pranksters and not infestation. But Jack knows better. But Jack is asked to keep a lid on it for the good of the local economy and upcoming events. Ray knows the problem is bad and the rats are weird but he says higher ups want to keep it quiet until later.
Inside the walls inside the department store, walls have been chewed, the metal ladder that leads to the basement. Plenty of evidence of rats but no rats. Then they find a crawl space that leads to the access tunnels and inside they can hear the rats. As the subway shakes the walls, the rats come pouring out. And when Susan, Jack and Ty return to the basement, it is full of rats.
They have to make a plan to deal with this. It’s bigger than just the store. It’s a huge colony. But the store manager just tells them to set traps and cover the hole in the wall. And send Jack on his way. And Jack is pissed.
And the infestation is just getting worse, Susan is attacked by a rat in her car and she can’t get out. But when it leaves her car, she runs over it, unfortunately another rat witnesses it.
Meanwhile, Jack and Ty try to find out why MidTown and not other streets. Ty also does a necropsy on a dead rat they found in the basement. Susan returns to the hospital to check the prognosis of their customer and while there she runs into Jack.
Ty gets news, the rat is altered and originates from a nearby lab. They head over and it’s locked up tight, so they break in. The place seems abandoned, the floors are covered with bones. They find evidence that the health department shut the company down, so they left and abandoned the subject animals. The rats fed on the other animals then gnawed their way out when the food ran out.
Now they need to persuade Ray to do something but he is against any action until Susan threatens him with the news.
Later that night, Jack sends a robot into the tunnels and they see a massive colony of rats. And a spark from a live wire sends them scurrying into the subway and stranding commuters. Rats fall by the thousands onto the stalled train and they enter through an open window, pouring in. A subway employee is quickly being consumed.
Jack once again warns Ray about the rats and Ray threatens his livelihood, warning Jack in return. But Jack doesn’t care anymore, he’s gonna do what he has too. So he lures them into the empty public pool and waves of rats spew through the vents like a geyser.
This is a made for tv movie directed by John Lafia. It’s pretty good though and nostalgic, if you like that 90s television movie feel. There are a ton of rats in this movie, like geysers of rats. This isn’t very bloody or gory, it’s mostly just creepy and capitalizes on people’s fear of rodents.