Welcome to the Ending Explained for Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities Episode 2, titled “Graveyard Rats”. This episode might be one of the most terrifying for some people. If you are afraid of rats, then don’t watch this because the number of rats on screen is truly unbelievable. The episode, now available on Netflix, is an adaptation of a short story written by Henry Kuttner. Henry was a friend of H.P. Lovecraft and made several contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. Graveyard Rats is just one of those stories.
We know how much Guillermo del Toro loves all things Lovecraft, so it makes sense for one of the Cthulhu Mythos tales to be in the Cabinet of Curiosities. The episode is directed by Vincenzo Natali, a director who jumped to fame thanks to the excellent Cube, a Canadian independent film that took the independent horror scene by storm. Since then, Natali has been making films in the realm of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, so he makes a perfect addition to the roster of directors on this anthology.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Graveyard Rats. Read at your own risk.
Why Is Old Masson Robbing Graves?
The episode is set in the United States of America, in Salem, Massachusetts. Here we enter the city’s cemetery, and we get to see the work of some grave robbers, people who open the graves of the dead in order to search for valuables. This is not a pretty profession and as you can imagine, people who spend their time in this line of work are very much seen very badly by society. The grave robbers are stopped by our protagonist, the cemetery caretaker, Mr. Masson.
He stops the robbers and uses very flourishing language. He says how robbing a grave could lead to the end of civilization. He warns the robbers and lets them go. After they are far away, we see that Mr. Masson isn’t as different from the robbers, as he jumps into the grave and begins examining the body with the same intention as the robbers, to find anything valuable. He opens the mouth of the body and finds a gold tooth. He extracts the tooth, but it falls from his hand and hits the bottom of the coffin. When he tries to recover it, Masson is bitten by a huge rat.
Having failed to acquire the golden tooth, we see Masson visiting a very intimidating individual. Masson seems to be up to his neck in debt, and the people he owes to are not nice people. The man gives Masson an ultimatum. He only has one week to come up with the money. If he doesn’t, then he better be saying goodbye to life. In his desperation, he goes to his friend, the town’s mortician, to see if some bodies in there have golden teeth. One of them has them, a rich man, who recently died
Masson overhears the dead man’s widow saying that he will be buried with medals and a very valuable saber. Masson thinks this is the solution to this predicament. He only has to wait for the man to be buried and steal everything from him at night. The only issue is that he needs to be quick, or the rats will get to the body before him, as they have been doing with most of the recent bodies.
Does Mr. Masson Get The Money He Needs In The End?
Masson waits for the right moment and opens the grave to the rich man’s body. However, his fears become reality; the rats have come for the body, and he cannot do anything to stop them. They drag the body through a long tunnel that descends into the earth. Masson finds the resolution to follow the rat because he knows that if he doesn’t come up with the money, he is dead anyway. He descends through the tunnel.
As he descends, he discovers that down there are not only normal rats but also a big, huge one, as big as a mountain lion. He tries to shoot it, but the monstrous rat hits back. Wounded, Masson keeps going down, and he falls into an open space. As he sees the architecture, he describes the place as a “black church”, but we know that this is not a thing of the devil, but something far worse. The walls are filled with Old One’s imagery, and Cthulhu references are everywhere.
In the chamber, he discovers a body wearing a giant golden collar. This is a huge bounty, and he takes it without even thinking about it. The body comes to life and declares the collar is his. They fight, but Masson manages to escape as he has legs and the body doesn’t. However, he gets trapped between the body and the giant rat. He decides to collapse the ceiling over the monsters and kills the rat while trapping the body under the rubble. With money in his pocket, Masson now looks for an exit.
He follows a light through one of the tunnels, but when he reaches it, he sees it was only the reflection of his lantern. He has appeared inside an empty coffin, and no one can hear him. The rats descend upon him, killing him in the process. Sometime later, the grave robbers from the beginning open the grave to find Masson laying dead inside, with his body full of rats.