When I was younger I
had friends who threw parties with real invitations, themes, kegs
and sometimes even plastic hats. Those were great parties. Now,
the only ones I'm invited to are impromptu gatherings of drunks
afraid to go to sleep after the Tavern closes. All we really do
is go to someone's apartment and vomit and urinate all over ourselves.
Those are pretty great parties too.
I remember one
particular party from my youth. Lloyd had just started college and
he invited a lot of people from school. That meant lots of pretty
girls who didn't know me and, as far as I could tell, hadn't read
about me in the police log or seen my name on the bad check list
taped to the register at the 7-11. It was going to be the greatest
party ever. The fly in the ointment was this asshole. I didn't know
him, so he must have been from the college. He was pale, bony and
angular with stringy hair, and he strutted around the living room
with a rat on his shoulder. Seriously, a big fucking white rat,
crawling around and shitting over his shoulder.
Rat Guy tried to act like it was no big deal, but
he was really impressed with himself and was dying for a chance
to say, "Huh, what? Oh, the rat. I'm surprised more people don't
have them." He wanted the pretty girls to be dazzled, but it struck
me as the most unsubtle cry for attention ever.
I remember becoming so pissed as the party went
on. It was partly because that weirdo was so fucking sad and desperate,
and partly because the rat was really freaking out my parrot.
That rat guy will love Willard. It's the
perfect movie for every loner who thinks the rest of the world is
really creeped out by rats, and that he's cool for digging them.
It's a movie that'll appeal far more to people who think others
are scared by them than to anyone looking to be scared. That's because
lots and lots of rat shit everywhere isn't scary; it's just unpleasant.
And a great way to transmit the hanta virus.
Willard is a remake of a shitty horror movie
from 1972. Everything about this fucking dog is obvious and overworked.
It's like rat guy: no subtlety, no cleverness, but lots of confidence
that it has both.
Crispin Glover is Willard, a trod-upon dweeb with
no self-confidence. He works as a drone at the company his father
started and the sleazy, evil business partner (R. Lee Ermey) stole.
He lives at home with his ancient mother in a once-glorious mansion.
When he discovers rats in the basement, he befriends them by providing
food and safety. He makes a bedfellow out of a small white one named
Socrates. Glover trains the rats who appear to already understand
English before he gets to them, and then he plots his revenge against
is a struggle for the hearts of the rats. The biggest rat is Ben.
You can tell he is bad because he's brown and because we keeps seeing
close-ups of his eyes, which are somehow supposed to be more evil
looking than all the other rat's' eyes. See, just like our real-life
government, the movie assumes the bad guys are always brown. Ben
is more aggressive and vicious than the others. He is Glover's id,
capable and willing to do all the damage that Glover secretly wants
but can't do because of his timidity.
Finally, the rats led by Ben kill Glover's boss
Ermey. It takes for-fucking-ever to get to this obvious ending.
In the filler, Glover fumes about this or that injustice and acts
flummoxed by the beautiful new girl (Laura Elena Harring) at work
who takes a liking to him for no reason whatsoever. Mixed in are
incessant shots of rats pouring out of holes to fill rooms, and
of floors covered with rat shit. It looks like these rats could
teach my grandfather a thing or two about regularity.
It's a bad fucking movie, man. Awful because it's
such a lame and unoriginal hack job full of tired ideas dressed
up with pretty lighting. I got the sense director and writer Glen
Morgan must think he's really clever and "out there", but so does
an annoying receptionist who says her life should be a sitcom and
constantly tells people "they broke the mold after me" because she
loves "Dilbert" so much. This is the freak out shit of a very boring
man who is more convinced than anyone else of his outrageousness.
I bet dollars to donuts he's got a zany "Why be normal?" bumper
sticker on his car.
More than being creepy, Willard goes about
busily believing it is. Morgan is damn certain that just the sight
of rats is scary. In fact he's so convinced he brings them out in
droves in dozens of nearly identical scenes. He covers the floor
of every set with rat shit with fetishistic zeal. A little shit
gets the point across; a lot just feels like a desperate attempt
to gross us out.
Willard is full of stuff that probably sounded
cool to a hack brainstorming while stoned. I keep hearing people
say having Glover play Willard was inspired casting. Bullshit. Who
else was going to do it? It's the most obvious casting imaginable,
and that's why every critic thinks it was so fucking great: because
it's what they would have done. There's a reason critics don't make
movies, you know. Glover is great in small doses, but here he's
given free reign to twitch, overact, snivel and whine. He wears
out his welcome with 80 minutes of movie left. The mean boss is
played by the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket with
the same over-the-top stridency. That gag wears itself out really
fucking fast. Besides, we've seen the mean boss or the man that
stole the family fortune enough already. Why not just dig up Scrooge?
Glover's mother is a grotesque-looking caricature whose only purpose
in the movie is to spook people by being ancient. As someone who
plans to be old one day, I found it more offensive than clever. There
is a montage of carnage to a campy love ballad from the 70s. That's
not quite as clever as one of teen girls dancing on a bed and singing
into hairbrushes, or a sports team uniting to the strains of Gloria
Beneath sets that are highly-polished imitations
of the locales from better movies is a plot that sucks so hard it
could get snot out of a duck's ass. The main revenge plot is dragged
out forever. The power struggle between the big rat as the id and
Glover as ego could have been interesting, but it's buried under
too much literal rat shit. It's reduced to a simple series of predictable
events. Glover seals a hole in the wall to keep Ben out and guess
what? Ben gets in! Glover tries to kill all the rats and guess what?
Ben survives! The only way we know Ben is evil is because the camera
keeps showing close-ups of its eyes. I guess we should be thankful
the rodent doesn't rap.
The love story goes nowhere. We're never told what
fucking kind of accent Harring is trying out, but I think it's some
sort of Serbian Leprechaun. "Always after me lucky mass burial sites!"
She has so little screen time and so little motivation that her
character wanders around as lost and confused as a 92-year-old in
an Ikea. Why a gorgeous new employee with tits that swell would
take a liking to the sniveling, ugly, borderline-insane guy at the
office is never explained. For future reference, I'd love to know.
is lousy unpleasant and smug. It's the guy with the rat on his shoulder
who thinks that's the best possible way to win our admiration. One
to tell Filthy Something?