Ratter gets its title from the kind of cyber stalking its main character falls victim to. A ‘RAT’ is a Remote Access Trojan that can be installed without a user’s knowledge, giving the hacker access to all their devices, effectively turning your phone and computer into spy cams. When we meet Emma (played by Pretty Little Liars‘ Ashley Benson), who has just moved into her new NYC apartment, the stalker has already set up shop. The entire film is shot from the POV of Emma’s hacked devices, effectively turning the audience into the voyeuristic villain with unknown motives. Things begin to get really creepy when we realize that the faceless hacker is about to take his obsession with Emma to the next level.
Director Branden Kramer, who already explored this idea in his short film Webcam, has managed to put a new spin on the found footage genre. Ratter is an effective thriller that will make you suspicious of your phone and have you closing your laptop whenever you’re not using it. Benson, who also fills the role of camera operator in some scenes, does an admirable job carrying the human half of the film, a particularly tough challenge considering how many scenes she’s on her own in.
Ratter will likely get a good distribution deal as there is certainly an audience for this kind of dark, chilling movie. It could very well end up being the next Paranormal Activity, which also premiered at Slamdance, though it’s tough to see this concept lending itself to a franchise the way Paranormal has, but stranger things have happened.
Screens Sunday, Jan 25, 10:15pm and Wednesday, Jan 28, 6:20pm