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Of Unknown Origin [DVD]
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Rodent horror starring Peter Weller as Bart Hughes, a businessman who stays home alone while his wife and young son go on holiday in order to finish off a project for his firm that will earn him the promotion he has been looking forward to. But, unbenownst to him, he is sharing his apartment with an enormous rat. When he discovers this, he becomes increasingly obsessed with trying to catch and kill it, to the point where he is losing friends - and possibly his sanity...
A low-rent horror flick from the early 1980s, Of Unknown Origin completely misses the mark in the scare stakes and instead comes across like a grisly, live-action version of Tom and Jerry. Our inept hero is the ambitious, house-proud executive Bart Hughes (Peter Weller), who is left alone by his wife and son to complete a business proposal only to discover that he is sharing his apartment with a mischievous giant rat. Unable to trap or poison his foe, Hughes quickly descends into nightmare-haunted madness and thus the stage is set for a suspenseless battle of wits that is less cat-and-mouse and more idiot-versus-rat.
Finding an angry rodent swimming in your toilet might be a pretty unpleasant prospect, but cinematically speaking it's far from terrifying. Created using jerky point-of-view shots and creature effects that range from incongruous real-life footage to button-eyed glove puppets, the rat is an unthreatening villain, despite Weller's best efforts to react in abject horror when he finds the corners of his mail nibbled or his dry groceries spoiled. There are some unsuccessful attempts to make Hughes' plight more immediate to the audience by references to real-life rat problems--he visits a library to research his enemy and finds some disturbing photographs of rat-attack victims and subsequently ruins a dinner party with a genuinely unsettling rant about infestation and plagues--but it's difficult to feel sorry for him when he can't even muster the tenacity to track down a professional exterminator. By the time Weller gets caught in one of his own traps, you will probably be rooting for the rat anyway, and might take some pleasure from a ridiculous denouement in which, dressed in full battle-gear, he completely destroys his beloved apartment by clumsily chasing the elusive vermin with a nail-studded baseball bat. Gore Verbinski's genuinely hilarious Mousehunt did it with a lot more charm.
On the DVD: Of Unknown Origin comes to DVD with a basic selection of extras. An entertaining commentary from Peter Weller and the likeable George P Cosmatos III does the film a lot of favours, even if their efforts to talk up its importance as an allegory for man's struggle against nature using comparisons with The Old Man and the Sea, Moby Dick, Alien and Jaws fail to convince. Added to this is the theatrical trailer ("If it doesn't scare you to death, it WILL find another way!"), a choice of languages and scene selection. --Paul PhilpottSee all Product description
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There are quite a few loose ends though.Weller has a major deal to broker through and this never comes to any type of conclusion, oh you'll get an extra few weeks to finish it off- surely the movie would have been more effective if he had lost his job in the process because he was falling apart. His secretary is just set up to be killed by the rat and it never happens, she just drifts in and out of the movie, its even suggested that Weller isn't happy in his relationship and kisses her, but absolutely nothing comes of it as if there was a tight schedule to get the movie done and all was forgotten about.
However this can't take away from the basic premise of the movie, man vs rat and even though we do get somewhat of an anti climax the rest of the movie works very well. You won't want to watch this one before going to bed.
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