Washington has more rats than people, and “Rats” sets out to chronicle the battle one D.C. neighborhood has with rodent infestation while placing it in a larger context. Low-budget docu should become a fest favorite, but likeliest venue will be public television.
Much of the film is set near the upscale Dupont Circle neighborhood in the alleyway behind Willard Street. (No mention is made of the 1971 rat-fest “Willard.”) There is much footage of scurrying rats as well as interviews with residents, street people, exterminators, animal activists, garbage collectors and city officials. What film makes clear is that this is as much a human problem as a rat problem — one resident says he prays for a fire to destroy the property of an owner whose garbage is a rat haven — and that mass slaughter will merely clear the way for other rats to move in. Tech credits are modest but adequate. Tom Barrick provides musical accompaniment consisting of a drum solo to good effect.