BIG FREAKING RAT (2020) Review of comedy creature feature

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Big Freaking Rat is a 2020 American science-fiction comedic horror feature film about a huge raging rodent that has evolved from toxic waste.

Written and directed by Thomas J. Churchill (The Day of the Living Dead; The Amityville Harvest; XenophobiaLazarus: Apocalypse), the movie stars Scott C. Roe (Alien Warfare; The Dawn; Megalodon), Dave Sheridan, Caleb Thomas (Battlefield 2025; Hanukkah; The Terror of Hallow’s Eve; et al), Cece Kelly, Vincent M. Ward (Death House; Live-House) and horror genre icon Felissa Rose.

With the help of his nephew Dylan and niece Naomi, Ranger Brody is preparing to open the brand-new campground for the season. Everything is in order and the camp seems peaceful until a giant rat, mutated by dumped toxic waste, begins killing the campers and rangers…

In the first fifteen minutes of Big Freaking Rat, a hitchhiker shouts “Oh, come on! Jesus Christ!”. Unfortunately, that’s what many viewers will maybe think when they watch this movie because the titular beastie is seldom seen until the climax. This is a standard-issue that plagues many monster movies and they usually balance out the budgetary problem of how much to show the marauding critter with some decent characterisation instead. Unfortunately, this is where Thomas J. Churchill’s movie falls down.

Initially, the inter-generational interaction between Ranger Brody (Scott C. Roe) – who has issues about his teenage cousin Dylan’s (Caleb Thomas) internet obsession – is mildly amusing. However, it soon becoming grating and unrealistic when the myth that almost anyone can make $15K a month on YouTube by just posting clips of their own life is casually thrown in. Cue some irritating campers having a sing-along to drag out the running time unnecessarily before we finally get some rat action.

The film’s biggest stumble begins when a bunch of very clichéd gangsters named the De Stefanos (who spout tired Tarantinoesque-type dialogue) turn up to torture an apparent informer to death. He’s a “rat” they declare, repeatedly. So, the obvious in-joke is made. But they then say “rat”, repeatedly. Yes, we get it.

A pest-control exterminator named Larry pops up and confuses the gangsters who assume he is a “cleaner” who will dispose of their “rat” victim’s body. Unfortunately, not only is Larry overplayed by Dave Sheridan but he’s a walking dipshit with a gold chain and toothpick perpetually in his mouth (does anyone in the USA still waltz around with a toothpick in their mouth except in dumb movies?). Frankly, it’s a relief when the giant rat decimates the gangsters. Unfortunately, that still leaves Lenny to spout such groan-inducing lines as “We’re gonna need a bigger trap” and “You’ve been exterminated!”

Big Freaking Rat is competently made by Thomas J. Churchill and is more agreeable than his messily scripted Amityville Harvest. It’s swiftly edited and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The giant rodent isn’t shown much and doesn’t kill enough people so the film’s pacing flags mid-way but its appearances are at least practical and are as cheesy as the movie title suggests. So, that’s a step-up from most CGI-laden Syfy monster movies.

Felissa Rose (also a co-producer) does what she does best, adding some elder Scream Queen appeal and that’s always welcome. It’s a shame that the film is let down by an unwelcome mid-section involving the aforementioned supposedly comedic gangsters, a working-class ‘hero’ who is just an annoying idiot. There is also a painfully generic score by Erick Schroder that emphases all the parts that don’t work. By no means a total failure, Big Freaking Rat is worth a watch but it’s advisable to be aware of its flaws beforehand.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

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Cast and characters (alphabetical):
Caroline Abbott … Camper
Nino Aldi … Steve
Bob Barnett … Camper
Niko Brooks … Camper
Michael Cervantes … Miles
Dan Yoon Hyuck Choi … Police Officer
Sheri Davis … Camper
Jennifer Elliott … Camper
Mark Hoadley … Archie
Del Howison … Charlie
Theresa Ireland … Ashley
Tracy Irvine … Benny
John Karyus … Grover
Cece Kelly … Naomi
Scott King … JoJo
Stuart Kosh … Camper
Crystal Miranda … Camper
Patrick Mulderrig … Jimmy
Barry Papick … Marco
Marisa Parks … Zoe
Eddie Pollard … Camper
Julie Anne Prescott … Camper
Johanna Rae … Amber
Kelly Lynn Reiter … Deana
Scott C. Roe … Brody
Felissa Rose … Maxine
Ron Russell … Paulie
Megan Salisbury … Camper
Dave Sheridan … Lenny Cusamano
Abigail Spear … Amy
Rachel Sterling … Annoyed Camper
Jazmin Tapia … Camper
Stephany Tapia … Camper
Caleb Thomas … Dylan
Brett Wagner … Homeless Man
Vincent M. Ward … Jaeckel
Nicholas Waters … Timmy

Technical details:
1 hour 25 minutes

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