The Rat Catcher (2023) Review

The Rat Catcher (2023) Review

Wes Anderson’s Unique Adaptation

Wes Anderson’s third short film in his series of Roald Dahl adaptations for Netflix, “The Rat Catcher,” deliberately embraces idiosyncrasy. It takes a dark dive into madness, given an oddly endearing quality through astute animation.

A Blend of Humor and Horror

There’s a lot happening here; touches of humor mingled with an appreciation for the cunning of rodents, gradually giving way to something verging on outright horror. It stands as the darkest of the three preceding shorts, by a considerable margin. However, it still retains enough of Anderson’s filmmaking finesse to feel more artful than it might have in different hands.

The Plot Unraveled

The plot revolves around two men, portrayed by Richard Ayoade and Rupert Friend, who enlist the services of a rat catcher to deal with the pests plaguing a nearby hayrick and, in turn, their businesses. The story draws inspiration from Dahl’s own experiences in a small-town working environment. It might be a bit of a stretch to cast Ayoade and Friend as representatives of the working class, though.

Fiennes’ Dual Role

Similar to “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” and “The Swan,” Ralph Fiennes takes on the role of Dahl himself. In this film, he also portrays the eponymous rat catcher, a peculiar and unkempt figure who seems as likely to become a rat as he is to catch one. His expertise and fondness for the creatures teeter on the edge of a fetish, or at least a sort of murderous obsession.

The Rat Catcher (2023) Review

Tension and Horror Unveiled

The tension in “The Rat Catcher” stems from Ayoade and Friend’s characters being oblivious to the mistake they’ve made by involving this man until it’s too late. The horror arises from Fiennes, who gradually transforms into a more rat-like creature throughout the piece, his front teeth and lean face progressively adorned with props and makeup.

The Monstrous Rat

When we finally glimpse a rat, it’s depicted in an intentionally adorable manner, accentuating Fiennes’ monstrous appearance even further. He becomes the antagonist in a somewhat inhuman, uncomplicated manner, burdening Ayoade and Friend with the more intricate moral dilemma of condemning living beings to grim fates for their own convenience.

Anderson’s Pinnacle

Is this Wes Anderson’s finest filmmaking yet? “The Rat Catcher,” like “The Swan,” is more contained compared to “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” but it showcases what could arguably be Anderson’s most daring filmmaking to date. This is where he allows the formal eccentricities of these shorts to run wild, shifting perspectives suddenly and confusingly, portraying Friend, Fiennes, and Fiennes-as-Dahl as intermittently rat-like predators vying for their prey.

Impactful Obscurity

While this may be one of Dahl’s less well-known stories, it arguably leaves the most significant impact of any thus far. This firmly justifies its inclusion in this short collection, affirming why Anderson, quibbles about his specific style notwithstanding, unquestionably merits his creative renown.


1. What is the premise of “The Rat Catcher”?

“The Rat Catcher” follows two men, played by Richard Ayoade and Rupert Friend, who hire a rat catcher to deal with a pest problem in their businesses. The story is inspired by Roald Dahl’s own experiences in a small-town working environment.

2. Who plays the roles of Dahl and the rat catcher in the film?

Ralph Fiennes takes on the dual roles of Roald Dahl and the titular rat catcher in the film.

3. How does the film balance humor and horror?

The film incorporates elements of humor and an appreciation for the cleverness of rodents, which gradually transitions into a more sinister and horror-filled atmosphere.

4. Why is “The Rat Catcher” considered Wes Anderson’s audacious filmmaking?

The film is praised for Anderson’s daring approach, particularly in how he employs formal quirks, shifting perspectives in a sudden and bewildering manner.

5. Why is “The Rat Catcher” significant in Wes Anderson’s body of work?

Despite being one of Dahl’s lesser-known stories, the film is lauded for making a substantial impact, justifying its inclusion in Anderson’s collection of adaptations. It showcases Anderson’s creative prowess, solidifying his reputation in the filmmaking industry.


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