Now that summer blockbuster season has ended, Hollywood begins ushering in the films they’re hoping will do well during award season. It’s the time of year we begin to see high tension drama, thrillers, and indie darlings dominate screens. Documentary is another genre that begins making noise right about now, and that’s where Morgan Spurlock’s Rats comes in.
Spurlock is no stranger to shocking his audiences, having become a household name back in 2004 with his documentary Super Size Me. Since then, he’s tackled quite a few controversial topics with Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden (2008), Freakonomics (2010), and now his upcoming Rats looks to be the most disturbing one yet. The film is based on the book by Robert Sullivan titled Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants. For those who have ever lived in New York City, or even visited, rats are part of daily life and not just in the subways.
Fangoria debuted the poster and trailer for Rats just before the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). As seen above, Rats is as real as any form of horror can get. Rats aren’t just a problem in cities, the documentary makes clear as we traverse the globe. The official synopsis is as follows:
“RATS goes deep beneath the surface to explore the lives of man’s greatest parasite. Oscar® nominated director Morgan Spurlock unveils a new form of documentary horror storytelling, journeying around the world to bring viewers face to face with rats while delving into our complicated relationship with these creepy creatures. In ways never before captured on film, RATS dives deep into New York City’s parks, subway tunnels, and sewers; venture to rice paddies in Cambodia and Vietnam where rats are caught and sold as food, cross worldly streets in India paroled by the revered Night Rat Killers, journey to the English countryside where packs of terriers kill hundreds of rats per day, and look inside a New Orleans lab, where scientists are studying how abandoned neighborhoods are making rats more invasive than ever.”
Horror is right. The trailer spares no gory detail as it moves from city to city across the globe telling how each place deals with rats in their own unique ways, which includes using them as a source for food. A film like this uses scare tactics in the same vein as (fictional) films like Contagion and Outbreak. It is easy to see how a pandemic could spread with mobile animal carriers — for context, think about Zika’s sudden rise to the top of medical watch lists.
“Rats evolve 10 times faster than humans, and it’s made them the most successful species on the planet,” says one voiceover in the trailer. The documentary goes to great lengths to prove that rats are so much more than mere rodents. This documentary is not for the faint of heart. Audience members passing out during Raw may have been staged, but just try getting through this trailer without cringing at the terrifying imagery and facts being presented.
Rats opens in 10 US markets on September 23rd, and will air in its entirety on the Discovery Channel on October 22nd.