Of Unknown Origin (1983)

Director: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Peter Weller, Jennifer Dale, Lawrence Dane,Kenneth Welsh, Louis Del Grande. USA. 1h 28m.

There is a strong committed performance here from Peter Weller as he stars in George Cosmatos cinematic interpretation of The Visitor by Chauncey G Parker III, but it can’t shake off how “un-horror” and this horror can be at times. Instead the literary sense behind the film stands out strong but there could have been a huge opportunity for some gory visually to back everything up.

Peter Weller plays, Bart Hughes, a banking executive that is constantly outsmarted by a peculiar rat. While finalising big business ventures he’s also modernising an impressive brownstone apartment he’s unaware of a furry visitor making his home within the constitution.

After his family leave for their vacation he’s left alone to get his head down but slowly he becomes more aware a highly devious rodent who’s ready to fuck up his day at every turn. At first he’s quite aloof of the problem, more concerned with work and believing it’s pretty simple to get rid of, but before long his entire life is turned upside down as he dementedly attempts to destroy his tiny foe using traditional methods and then going totally off the scale with his mania.

As a gothic thriller, so much about this story works, the rat works as a metaphor for what’s lacking in Barts life, but on the whole this is an inventive urban Moby Dick story that a lot of us can sympathise with, how often have you swatted a spider only to find it’s vanished and spent the night looking for it, it seems all too human to have to prove a dominance over things, a rivalry or some random personal vendetta. But seeing it all unfold and breakdown within this Brownstone by Robocop is pretty special but for me it just needed that special effect edge.

In all of it’s deep meaning it fails to grip, but it seemed to be a stepping stone for director George P. Cosmatos who had quite a gap from 1979 to 1983 when he took on this dark project then quickly onto Rambo II in 1985, stayed with Stallone for Cobra 1986 then back to Weller in 1989 with Leviathan, with each movie there was a progression with action, violence and special effects and he really seemed to find his footing with some of the more impressive movies of the 80’s. There’s a lot simmering in the walls and of this interesting film but I felt that the ending felt a little flat and there’s room for improvement but it remains a good watch.

Peter Weller’s chiseled cheekbones look amazing as he skulks around in the shadows, getting incredibly desperate to hunt out his foe, becoming disheveled in his mania intensifies, slowly the once beautiful home around him turning into a war zone, the supporting cast make brief appearances but he pretty much balusters the movie by himself, him and hardly seen rat foe.

Rating: 5/10

R: Moby Dick (1956), The Cat came back (1988),

L: A few horrors from 1983 still worth talking about

5s – Peter Weller

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