Weller looks back on ‘of unknown origin’ and the horror of rats entertainment dentonrc.com gas 37 weeks pregnant


One day the rat gnaws at the water line connected to Bart’s dishwasher. Another day he finds simple household items have been chewed to bits. It’s apparent this rat has a vendetta against Bart. But this is no mere man vs. vermin story. Weller and director George P. Cosmatos ( Tombstone) bring a lot of gravitas to the whole ratty affair.

“Both stories parallel each other. The ambition of the guy with his job draws comparisons to the guy who is trying to kill this rat at the expense of his house,” Weller said on a recent phone call. “The theme of it all is to survive at all costs.”

The allegorical nature of the film elevates the material from a B-horror movie level to something more profound. As cool as it is to see Weller decked out in ninja-like attire and holding a baseball bat complete with rat traps and nails attached, the juxtaposition of a man trying to survive the brutal business world and survive his nights with this rat supersedes everything else and provides a more layered story than one might believe.

“[Cosmatos] convinced me to do the film by telling me about its survival story. It’s a wealthy man with a perfect house and a perfect family. [Bart] becomes obsessed with perfection,” Weller said. “The emblem of his imperfection is this rat.”

The perfectionist in Bart is best shown during a dinner scene that happens midway through Of Unknown Origin. In the sequence, Bart is having a business dinner with some colleagues. Instead of engaging in typical kiss-up dinner topics, Bart brings up the history of rats and their relationship to humans.

“When I was prepping, I went back to [Cosmatos] because originally, it was a very lean scene. I told him that this guy has to be obsessed with the context of rats now, because that’s the kind of guy he is,” Weller said. “The information I share in the scene I had researched in a New York library. The social parallels between rats and humans is remarkable. So [Cosmatos] agreed to add my scene in the film.”

“ The Visitor [written by Chauncey G. Parker III] is about a rat on a lifeboat. Most of the people on the lifeboat die. So the idea that this rat is anthropomorphic, has a conscience and is doing stuff purposefully to drive my character nuts is the subtext of the thing. But then again, you never know, because it’s just a rat.”

Similar to Alien, we don’t see the creature until a character encounters it. It’s a nice buildup to the rat’s ultimate reveal. The audience only sees a large shadow and hears chattering throughout the house from above and below before Bart comes face to face with it. Cosmatos even plays with perspectives using macro lenses and 40 different rat props to capture Bart’s anxiety and lay down some tension.

“You don’t know whether it’s my point of view or reality, really,” Weller said. “[Cosmatos] is a gifted filmmaker and very knowledgeable. Even though I haven’t seen Of Unknown Origin in over 20 years, I remember my scenes well and I had a great time doing them.”

Currently, Weller is gearing up to direct the upcoming Sons of Anarchy spinoff series, Mayans, for the FX Network. He recently finished directing an episode from the second season of Mr. Mercedes, a Stephen King adapted series on the AT&T Audience Network.

Of Unknown Origin is now available on Blu-ray through www.shoutfactory.com/shop. The disc comes with new interviews with executive producer Pierre David, writer Brian Taggert and actor Louis Del Grande (who plays a superintendent). It also includes a theatrical trailer, a still gallery and an insightful audio commentary featuring Cosmatos and Weller.