Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Terrifying and violent horror movie. Rats -- EWW.

Movie PG-13 2003 100 minutes
Willard Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Outstanding! A rare find!

Willard is one of those hidden gems not very many people know about. It's a well-made super scary and eerie horror film about a lonely and kind man named Willard (Crispin Glover) who works for his deceased father's company managed by mean boss Mr. Martin (R. Lee Ermey) who humiliates Willard on a daily basis in front of the staff. Willard has no friends, but a nice woman at work has eyes for him. He lives with his ill mother in a huge mansion. When Willard's mother asks him to kill the rats in the basement, Willard proceeds, until he catches a small white rat and releases him from the trap. They become instant friends, Willard's only friend named Socrates. Soon after, he realizes that he has a psychic connection with the rats and begins to secretly train them to do what he demands, except for a giant rat named Ben who Willard doesn't like. This gives Willard full control which is something he's never had before, he uses the rats to fulfill his anger and anxiety towards the people he dislikes. It gets out of hand and he quickly loses the rats respect and his dirty secret finally unfolds. Language is strong for a PG-13 throughout including f-words and several name calling. Violence is fairly strong and gory including a rat getting slaughtered with a broomstick with lots of blood, rats vandalize a mans garage and chew up his car tires, rats violently attack and kill a man with blood shown, a small dog is thrown into a bag of rats and they attack it but don't kill it, a cat is terrorized by a group of rats who eventually kill the cat, rats kill an old woman off-screen but you see her remains later, an angry man continuously humiliates his employee calling him names and bringing him down, lots of loud outbursts and arguments by characters. Willard's ill mother is creepy looking and sounding. Sexual content is very mild with some light flirting between a caring woman and Willard, a man looks through adult ads online but you only see a couple pictures of clothed women, nothing explicit. No drinking, drugs or smoking. This movie is a lot of fun for horror fans! Not recommended to those sensitive to animal deaths (one scene in particular was very sad!) Okay for 14+ viewers.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

There may never be a better horror movie about the relationship of a repressed young man to his ravenous rats than this remake of the 1973 version starring Bruce Davidson and Ernest Borgnine.

The movie's strengths are Glover's genuine weirdness and the stunning production design. Screenwriter/director Glen Morgan has both passion and feel for the material and a macabre sense of humor. Fans of the original will enjoy seeing Davidson's appear in a portrait and photos as Willard's father and a reprise of Michael Jackson's "Ben," the hit song from the sequel to the original movie, now even creepier than it was back then.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate