directed by Theo Anthony
We open this odd doc with solid piece of folk wisdom: “This town doesn’t have a rat problem. It has a people problem” announces one of Baltimore’s City Rat Control officers. That’s true of most places, and this film picks a location and charges off. We meet people who hate rats, people that keep them as pets, and a snake dealer who sees them as excellent food for his slightly higher up-the-food-chain pets. We visit Baltimore in Google 3-D reality, find out how Google fuzzes out people’s faces, then veer off to learn about redlining and the persistence of poverty over the century. Rat poison tips are exchanged: don’t always use the same boat, switch over to BBQ sauce for the peanut butter ever so often. We even visit Baltimore’s “Pathology Exhibit” that holds 18 “Dollhouses of Death.” That’s a museum of crime where turn of the century dioramas are used to train forensics investigators. But it lacks rats. What is going on here? It’s a wandering, scattershot film that needs more focus and a stronger point of view.
But it’s not all bad. The best part of this movie introduces recreational rat hunters. The more reasonable guy uses pellet guns to patrol his alley, but the cooler guys use a Louisville slugger and a casting rig baited with lunch meat. They go fishing for rats, then club them to death. It’s cheaper than season ticket to the Orioles, I guess. While the interviews and history are interesting this movie never really takes a stand. We wander about, and I half expected John Waters to appear. You have to love rats, or at least Baltimore to really get a kick out of this project. It’s interesting, but the producers kept moving my cheese.
This film was presented as part of the Florida Film Festival