We start off the second day of Triple Six Festival with the short film Rats (and opening words by some of the films passionate crew). I was instantly on edge; of the four films I saw Rats was the one that built tension the best, I caught myself several times gripped in heart-in-throat moments because I thought I saw something coming into the theatre with us. Director Mark Logan builds some seriously Lovecraftian vibes. Using Lovecraft’s standard tropes: a knowledge seeker new to the location (Nicholas Vince, playing our main character); a knowledgeable local with thinly veiled supernatural connections (Laurence R. Harvey); a set that was both old and unsettling (shooting on set at Warwick Castle); and an ancient horror. I was sold.
Apparently, there are rumours Logan wanted to make an anthology out of the series, and it shows, there’s an almost staggering amount of exposition in a very short space of time. There’s also some superfluous story with the protagonist’s wife (Jessica Messenger), that I could have gone without, giving the film a slightly tighter storyline. Messenger and Vince both give solid performances that deserved the focus on one or the other, rather than watering down both parts to squeeze them both in.
There was one other issue I had with Rats. Perhaps I’m just a picky critic, but there was potential to go in a different direction with how their monster was shot. The special effects creating the eldritch horror were admirable, and they led to a couple of solid jump-scares. But jump-scares don’t require a clear view of the monster to work, and the single most unsettling moment of the entire day was Vince opening the door to see something in the room, out of focus, clearly humanoid, but clearly not human in a very subtle way. Most importantly, this shot was infinitely scarier than it was once we got a clear view of it.
You can view our full list of reviews from Triple Six Festival here.