Morgan Spurlock is probably not who you would call a horror filmmaker. Unless of course, you think gaining 25 pounds on a diet of fast food in just under a month horrifying.
But that is exactly what he is did for his last documentary “Rats” on the Discovery Channel.
Despite his award-winning documentary Super-Size Me, Spurlock has become recognized in the industry as an “in-the-trenches” documentarian.
That style has seen success not only at the box office but also on television with his series “Inside Man.”
Last year he went underground to document the mysterious realm of the rat kingdom, and in a Deadline Hollywood interview, he says the film was definitely a horror film.
Spurlock admits that he has always been a fan of the horror genre; his inspiration to become a filmmaker came from watching David Cronenberg’s Scanners. And after his friend Josh Braun gave him Robert Sullivan’s book called “Rats” that was the direction he knew he wanted to take the film if he were to do one.
“I went to Josh and I said, ‘I love the book, I’ve got an idea,’” Spurlock said. “What if we tried to make a horror documentary? What if we shot it like a horror film, scored it like a horror film, made it feel like a horror film, but we treat it like a straight doc?”
Spurlock’s tenacity to go where other filmmakers won’t is a childhood trait that he’s carried with him into his adult life. He did it with Super Size Me and he does it with “Rats.”
“We tried to do that exact same thing with Rats by not just showing you things that are a bit expected—by seeing a ton of rats in New York City—but then going into the labs in New Orleans, where you’re seeing them be dissected, and all the parasites and dangerous things that are in them, or going into the sewers of Paris, or going into the streets of India, where they’re killing them with their bare hands, or the temples, where they worship them, and the rats are gods,” he said.
Spurlock adds, “After we watched the premiere with the audience the first night, every other screening after that, all I would do is watch the audience because there’s nothing more rewarding than watching the audience freak out while they’re watching that film. It was fantastic.”
Personal Terror while Filming “Rats”
Making the movie, Spurlock encountered his own horrors, especially while filming underground in the tunnels of Europe.
“Being knee-deep in the sewers of Paris was a revolting experience,” said the filmmaker. “The only reason we filmed in the sewers in Paris is because New York City wouldn’t let us film in the sewers. I’m like, “What are they hiding in the sewers of New York City that they won’t let us in?”
“I’ve trudged through anywhere between six to twelve inches of muck in a sewer, and rats running around—it’s one of those experiences I don’t ever need to have again, so I can tick that box off.”
“Rats” premiered on The Discovery Channel on October 22, 2016.