By Brad Harbison

Ask any frontline pest management professional (PMP) who has worked several days and nights attempting to capture a trap-averse rat and he or she will tell you of the immense respect they have for this adversary.

While PMPs have long been fascinated by rats, in recent years the general public — in particular filmmakers — have discovered that these vermin make great subject matter. In 2014, noted director Morgan Spurlock produced “Rats,” a cable television documentary that explored not only how rats are controlled, but how they are an integral part of people’s culture, both in the U.S. and throughout the world. Spurlock used Robert Sullivan’s acclaimed book “Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants” as the basis for his documentary.

The latest filmmaker to bring rats to the big screen is director Theo Anthony, whose RAT FILM is scheduled for theatrical release on Sept. 15. RAT FILM tells the story of Baltimore’s rodent crisis from a historical, scientific and cultural perspective.

Greg & Will Kearney in Theo Anthony’s RAT FILM.
Photo Credit: MEMORY
Matthew Fouse in Theo Anthony’s RAT FILM.
Photo Credit: MEMORY
Baby rats, in Theo Anthony’s RAT FILM.
Photo Credit: MEMORY

According to a press release from Cinema Guild, the distributor behind RAT FILM, the film “not only exposes our boundaries of separation but makes homes in them. RAT FILM is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat — as well as the humans that love them, live with them and kill them — to explore the history of Baltimore. There’s never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it’s always been a people problem.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Anthony, a Baltimore native, explained why he chose rats as the vehicle to tell his city’s story.

“They’re really just an incredible vector across so many different people, places and history. It’s not so much what that thing is — it’s just a common side to all of those things,” Anthony told the Times. “I could have made a film about public transportation. Buses: how do buses link us? Anything that links places and time could have been the subject of the film. It’s just a thing that has direction and momentum that you can tag along and see what it bumps into.”

The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be contacted via email at bharbison@gie.net.