Chad Sogas’ autobiographical short documentary “Rat Tail” starts out as a quirky nostalgic look back at his midwestern upbringing and the rat tail hairstyle he rocked for a decade, the braided locks still stored safely in his parents’ basement.
The 15-minute film opens with a collection of loving home videos and photographs of Sogas’ childhood from his time as a baby with amazing hair to years as a kid and teenager with an amazing rat tail. This poignant montage, which includes flashes to things like school report cards, drawings, lost milk teeth, and pop culture mementos will transport viewers back to childhood, and to what for some, might have been simpler times.
Things aren’t always what they seem on the outside though and life is rarely simple, even for kids. As the film progresses, what transpires is hardly about a rat tail anymore but instead a beautiful and emotional evolution of self acceptance and healing.
Towards the middle of the film, the tone takes a turn from lighthearted to serious when Sogas presents his childhood journal. In it, heartbreaking entries of self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy. A young person battling anxiety and depression but unable to put a name on it. His rat tail a present fixture during these times and also a source of inner conflict.
Intensely personal interviews with Sogas’ family relay over shots of framed childhood photos. The vulnerable conversations about Sogas’ inner turmoil and how his family perceived him growing up are emotional, candid, painful, and inspiring.
Inspiring because it takes courage to be so open. Inspiring because every family, and every person, should be able to have such honest judgment-free conversations about mental health and how they’re feeling with their loved ones.
Impeccably edited and upliftingly approachable in how it tackles a deep subject matter, “Rat Tail” is an unforgettable hopeful light of a film that will resonate with many and encourage the opening of dialogue between parents and children about mental health.