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M.R. James is the greatest writer of ghost stories in English, and indeed perhaps the only one in whose work the unfortunate hero/victims have done nothing whatever to deserve their fate. Thus it is with ‘Rats’: the protagonist is perfectly innocent, but then he finds himself in the midst of an appalling horror. This short film depicts this horror in both graphic and also suggestive detail – there are moments of pure revulsion, and others where events from history swing in the sky like hallucinations, like effects of blindness. It treads a difficult path between stock horror nastiness and psychological tremor, and does it brilliantly: James is the trigger for this film, and it could not have been made without him, but nonetheless the haunting landscapes, the disorienting music, the suddenness of action, the appalling proximity of various doors are the film’s own.