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cast: Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey, Laura Elena Harring, and Jackie Burroughs

writer and director: Glen Morgan

96 minutes (15) 2003 widescreen ratio 2.35:1
EV DVD Region 2 rental
Also available to rent on video
[released 27 September]

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by John Percival
Willard is stuck in a dead end job for a company that used to belong to his father. He works for a tyrant boss who verbally abuses him on a daily basis. Willard has no friends and is stuck looking after his cold, vicious mother who is sick. With his life looking increasingly hopeless, he makes a rather odd discovery, he shares a strong bond with the rats in his cellar, even to the point that they will do what he says. As he is pushed to the edge, Willard takes his new army and starts pushing back!

Willard is a very stylish horror film, with just a hint of Tim Burton. It is grim with an odd sense of the 1950s even though it is in a modern day setting. Director Glen Morgan is a veteran of many X-Files episodes and that dark theme can be felt here. Crispin Glover plays the character of Willard extremely well and appears to be completely absorbed in the part; he is creepy but also an object for our sympathy. Willard has more than a passing similarity to Psycho's Norman Bates with the overbearing mother that has twisted Willard's view of life. His is so lonely that he accepts an army of rats as friends with very little surprise.

R. Lee Ermey does what he does best and that his shouting at people and crushing them under the weight of his insults. We have seen it done before as the legendary Drill Sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Here he is in similarly fine form as Willard's boss, Mr Martin. He co-owned the company with Willard's dad and whose dying request was to give Willard a job until his mother passed. Honour bound to keep the promise but disgusted by Willard's lack of backbone he tears a strip off Willard each and every day. Willard and his army take revenge on the boss by destroying the tyres on his new car. When Willard's creepy mother dies in a nasty way, Mr Martin finally has the reason to give Willard the boot. Now Willard's taste for revenge grows darker, armed with a lot more rats, Mr Martin's exit is one you will never forget.

Willard is a dark mixture of CGI and solid character acting, even if we have seen R. Lee Ermey's character before. Crispin Glover perfectly creates a horror movie character that we want to succeed. He commits murder but he is still the hero. Willard could very easily be a character in an X-Files episode and it at times it does appear difficult for Glen Morgan as director to separate the two. Also he appears too restrained at times and prevents Willard from developing into the huge cult movie it could have been. However this is well worth watching and is a very entertaining creepy film, which may give some people a few rat-based nightmares.

Extras on the DVD include feature-length filmmakers' commentary, behind the scenes documentary, Real Rat documentary, music video - Ben by Crispin Hellion Glover with optional artist commentary, deleted/alternate scenes, theatrical trailer, and TV spots.

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