March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey

With his long, elegantly sharp nose, Glover certainly has the profile to star in this remake of the 1971 rat-infested horror hit. And his performance as an introvert who avenges himself on the world with an army of rodents has the twitching, blinking nervousness of a lab animal afraid to take a step farther in an experimental maze. At times, however, Glover erupts into prolonged hysterical shrieks that would puncture a mouse’s eardrums. He makes Tony Perkins in Psycho seem as unruffled as Vin Diesel.

The film is just as willfully (i.e., pointlessly) eccentric, a heavily stylized fantasy of repression and anger set in the filthy Gothic monstrosity Willard calls home. There’s surprisingly little gore or special effects (the legion of lethal rats simply pour out and flow like a river of mink) and a fair amount of camp. The rats hunt down a house cat to the accompaniment of Michael Jackson singing “Ben,” the Oscar-nominated theme to the original Willard‘s 1972 sequel. But what does that mean? (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: Not worth a nibble

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