Crispin Glover scintillates in otherwise unremarkable horror remake
THREE STARS BY any normal evaluation. For Crispin Glover fanatics, however, a five-star experience. No one was waiting for a remake of the 1971 horror in which Bruce Davison trained killer rats to eat Ernest Borgnine, but here it is. Glover steps delicately into Davison’s pumps as Willard Stiles, the milquetoast living in a crumbling gothic pile with his dying mother, mocked mercilessly at work by R Lee Ermey (Kubrick’s favourite Marine instructor, in the Borgnine role). He’s the world’s loneliest boy, but finds comfort, and a solution to torment, when he strikes up a loving friendship with hyper-intelligent basement rats Socrates and Ben and several thousand of their hungry chums. Glen Morgan’s direction has the quirky stylisation of a kid’s movie? think Mousehunt gone seriously wrong?but lacks pacing, and, crucially for a horror, contains not a single scare. Difficult to imagine who it’s aimed at beyond Glover fans, who’ll have a ball. Made-up to look like Franz Kafka, his performance has all the rhythm and sinister, icky undercurrents lacking elsewhere, a long solo of neurotic melancholy, sexual angst and explosive fits of screaming, crying and running headfirst into doors. That he sings Michael Jackson’s “Ben’s Song” over the credits is but the cherry on the sundae.