20th Oct2020

‘Big Freaking Rat’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott C. Roe, Dave Sheridan, Caleb Thomas, Cece Kelly, Vincent M. Ward, Felissa Rose | Written and Directed by Thomas J. Churchill

How the can you not watch a horror film called Big Freaking Rat? Give your film a title that involves a oversized creatures and I’m there. Though after the disappointment of last years Dead Ant I’m approaching these kinds of films with a bit more trepidation these days… On the plus side, Big Freaking Rat comes from director Thomas J. Churchill, who’s only other film I’ve seen is Checkpoint, the Goldberg-headlining action movie that – despite some issues – said a lot about divisions in society being exploited by those in power, be it political or financial. But I very much doubt there’ll be any political talk in a film about a giant killer rat?!

Big Freaking Rat tells the story of Ranger Brody who, with the help of his nephew Dylan and niece Naomi, is preparing to open the brand-new campground for the season. Everything is in order and the camp seems peaceful until a giant rat, mutated by dumped toxic waste, begins killing the campers and rangers.

Surprisingly, whilst Big Freaking Rat is free of any politics, there’s a nice nod to the fear and paranoia of today’s society, the “every man for themselves” attitudes that still divides us. And the film has quite a bit to say about inter-generational differences: Brody believes in hard work and seeing that hard work in action; whilst his nephew Dylan is a streamer and Youtuber, which of course means he’s treated like a slacker and chastised for not “working” by the older generation… including his uncle.

Big Freaking Rat also plays with the conventions of the horror genre in the most meta way possible – the kids often joking about the camp being so creepy that it’s pretty much guaranteed that people were killed at the campground in the past! Though that doesn’t mean writer/director Thomas J. Churchill still avoids the familiar cliches and stereotypes of the genre altogether. This is your typical monster movie after all!

The titular rat surprisingly makes a number of appearances throughout the film (with a film this low budget you’d expect it to be kept under wraps till the very end), munching on a myriad of extras. Extras who get ridiculously long introductory scenes that also help pad out the films running time. The slaughter is, for the most part, kept to killing those who are NOT the core cast – after all, the four main characters can’t be ALL killed really, so why not pad the film out with this that can be?! There’s also a daft subplot about some mafia-types who have their own “rat’ to take of… so in a case of mistaken identity they hire Dave Sheridan’s exterminator to kill their “rat”. Who’s a human, not an actual rat! It’s a silly drawn-out joke that’s merely another excuse to pad out a film that is, in reality, short on a core plot. Giant rat kills people… That’s all they’ve got, though that’s enough for me!

Thankfully this films Big Freaking Rat is just that – big! And it’s wonderfully rendered in good-old practical effects work, giant rubber rat hands and all. It’s cheesy yes, but the aesthetic matches the overall tone of the film perfectly. A tone which walks a very fine line between comedy and horror, ultimately delivering 85 minutes of pure monster-movie fun!

***½  3.5/5

Big Freaking Rat is available on digital and on-demand in the US now.


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