(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

RAT FILM (2017) is a history of Baltimore and the Norway Brown Rat. While it does cover both Baltimore and the rat, there is not much intersection between the two. Yes, it discusses redlining, and how the environmental conditions in the Black neighborhoods are such that rats proliferate there. But much of the information about rats is not specific to Baltimore, and the Baltimore history is probably typical of other cities as well (especially the redlining and other segregationist aspects).

We do see some unusual sights. There was a guy with a blowgun stalking a rat in his backyard, leading Mark to ask, "This is the peak of civilization?"

We discover that amateurs use poison in peanut butter; professionals use a poison that coats the tunnels--it gets on the rate and the rats ingest it while grooming it off.

We see people fishing for rats--with fishing poles. This doesn't scale up very well.

Curt Richter's rat poison actually increased the rat population; it turned out that fixing the environment (more frequent garbage pickup, improved sewers, etc.) worked better. There's whole "subplot" about rats as lab animals, including for social factors The Maryland Medical Examiner's Office has a collection, "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death", which contains eighteen miniature crime scenes. If this sounds like C.S.I.'s "Miniature Killer", it is because they inspired C.S.I.'s writers to create the character. After the film was made, the miniatures were displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, but the exhibit was returned to Baltimore and it is no longer open to the general public. (The C.S.I. connection and the film probably made it just too popular.)

In any case, it had nothing to do with rats. And I don't think Edgar Allan Poe gets mentioned at all, even though his was a case of unexplained death.

In short, this film was all over the map (no pun intended), with some interesting parts and others that seemed to go nowhere.

Released streaming 03 October 2017. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

Film Credits: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7905466/reference

What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rat_film_2017

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2023 Mark R. Leeper