Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Film #59: Of Unknown Origin
Greatest rat movie ever made? Forget Willard! Fuck Ben! Don't even think about mentioning Ratatouille! Check out Of Unknown Origin, the rat extravaganza to beat all! George Pan Cosmatos (Tombstone) directed this 1983 Canadian production starring Peter Weller as a successful white-collar executive with a hot wife (Shannon Tweed), a little tyke, a new brownstone, and a helluva problem. When the wife and kid go out of town, he's starts noticing little details...scratching behind the walls, a turd here and there, a chewed-through box of oatmeal, that sort of thing. Doesn't take Weller long to figure he's got a little visitor in his picture-perfect home. Wait...did I say little? Make that a BIIIG visitor--one with a tail that I'd say was, oh, maybe an inch or two in circumfrence.
So he does the usual--lays out traps and so forth. Nope. The thing's too smart for that! So he goes and gets advice from a super exterminator (Louis Del Grande from Scanners), who tells him he might have a female rat in his house, and that means awful trouble. Thus begins this all-out war between man and rodentia! It's a smash-up, I hafta say.
Peter Weller delivers a strong performance in the frustrating and very physical role as the stressed-out husband (his long dinner table monologue about the history of the rat is both informative and creepy). One could look at Of Unknown Origin as really being about Weller's supressed rage at his own demanding wife; his war with the rat could be his boxed-in male rage coming out full-force (on a female rat, at that). Supposedly set in New York but obviously filmed in much cleaner Montreal (the presence of Canadian actors Del Grande and Maury Chaykin confirm that), the film looks sharp, with some very eerie close-ups of our furry friend. Of Unknown Origin is edited effectively by Robert Silvi; largely a film without dialogue, it'll leave you wondering what's behind YOUR walls. Just try not to think about it, okay, or you might end up as crazy as this guy!