Terrifying and violent horror movie. Rats -- EWW.
  • Review Date: November 7, 2006
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive role models

The cast lacks cultural diversity.


Extremely intense horror violence, characters killed.


Character views a porn website.


Some very strong language including "f--k" and "s--t."


Some materialism.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a horror movie with real horror, including some scary shocks, some very tense and suspenseful moments, and some very grisly images. Characters are in peril and some are killed.

Kids say

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What's the story?

In this remake, Willard (Crispin Glover) is a quietly desperate man who lives in a huge, decaying mansion with his even more decaying mother. He works at the business his father once owned, for Mr. Martin (R. Lee Ermey), a man who constantly humiliates him. Willard does what he is told. When his mother tells him to kill the rats in the basement, he goes to the store to buy traps and poison. But when a small white mouse is caught in a trap, he carefully rescues it, names it Socrates, and it becomes first a pet and then his only friend. Willard then discovers that he has a psychic connection to the rats, especially a huge one he names Ben. They become the embodiment of his id, the unleashed resentment and anger of 20 years. He looses them, with great satisfaction on Martin's fancy new Mercedes. But then, like the sorceror's apprentice, he finds he is no longer in control. The rats are hungry.

Is it any good?


It's unlikely that there will ever 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Willard felt he had no alternatives, and how stories like this are often inspired by the consequences of keeping feelings inside and a sense of powerlessness.

  • Why was Willard unable to accept Katherine's offer of friendship?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 14, 2003
DVD release date:October 7, 2003
Cast:Crispin Glover, Laura Harring, R. Lee Ermey
Director:Glen Morgan
Studio:New Line
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:terror/violence, some sexual content and language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byrickydoo85 April 9, 2008
age 0+

Not as violent as it looks.

This movie from the trailer seems like their would be a lot of deaths and bloody scenes in the film. But there was only 1. It's about a man and his favorite rat, socretes. Socretes gets killed by Willard's boss and he wants revenge. So he trains Socretes' family to tear. Tear, tear, tear.
Adult Written bywonder dove October 15, 2013
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.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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