Directed by: Mark Logan
Written by: Mark Logan
Cast: Nicholas Vince, Laurence R. Harvey, Jessica Messenger
Something lurks in the dark shadows of the castle as Bill spends the night cataloguing the extensive library.
As Rats, the new short from Solitary director Mark Logan, begins, historian Bill (Nicholas Vince, Hellraiser, Night Breed) arrives at the picturesque Montague Castle. In the film’s exposition-heavy first half, an entertainingly heavy-going exchange with custodian Charlie (Laurence Harvey, The Human Centipede 2 and 3, Frankenstein Created Bikers) reveals that Bill is here to do some cataloguing in the library. However, he has other motives too – as he gets himself settled in his decidedly creepy room, it becomes apparent that he’s waiting for the arrival of lady friend Jess (Jessica Messenger, Beneath a Neon Tide). However, before Bill’s night of fun can begin, he’s got bigger things to worry about – most pressingly, that scratching sound in the walls…
Rats achieves a good balance of humour alongside its mounting tension, most of which is drawn from strong performances from Vince and Harvey, and Logan’s bleakly amusing script. To expand too much more would be to give too much away, but the reveal of the source of the mysterious scraping from behind the walls is a satisfying one, even if the final sequence possibly feels a little silly relative to what’s come before. Nonetheless, this is still an effective slow-burn, reliable in both visuals and performance.
I don’t usually watch many short movies but I wanted to watch this after hearing good things about it. RATS is set in an old English castle, visited in the night by Bill (Burnham-Vince) and his wife Jess (Messenger) and greeted not so warmly by the castles caretaker (an excellent turn from Harvey).
For me it was not entirely clear what was going on from the start, are the strange noises eminating from the castle walls down to rodents, ghosts of previous guests or something a little more sinister. Exploring and trying to find a bathroom leads Bill to discover the truth about what really lies behind the doors of the other rooms and the reveal is a very well done creature with excellent effects both visually and in terms of the creatures sounds and movements.
This as a full movie would make a great slow burner and it would have been good to have more screen time from the eerie caretaker who for me steals the show here. This is a great short with plenty of long lingering shots of corridors and in the rooms themselves.
If anything was to be made better I would say the suspense was let down by a lack of scares and I would like to have seen a little more gore, what exactly did the creature do to Bill in the end for example.
However these are minor niggles and I think what the director and the cast have done here is make a great little feature that shows promise for the future of the writer and director. It shows that this guy clearly knows his horror films and isn’t afraid to use the films that have influenced him into making RATS become a reality.
Solid, sound, great tension but not enough scares though thoroughly enjoyable.
In full disclosure Mark writes for this website, as do a number of people who worked on Rats. Neither Kris or Mitch had any involvement with the production and were free to write whatever they wanted about the short. Lets be honest, Kris wouldn’t dress it up, he’d call a spade a spade.