Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities‘ second episode, Graveyard Rats, is a story of how far a man falls when greed gets the better of him. Directed by Vincenzo Natali, the story centres around Masson (David Hewlett), a graveyard caretaker who calls himself the “steward of the garden of remembrance”.

In the first scene of the episode, we see two thieves digging up a coffin in order to steal any jewellery or valuables buried with the corpse. They are stopped by Masson, who explains to them that civilization began when humans dug graves to respectfully bid farewell to their dead.

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After he chases away the thieves, we see that Masson himself crawls into the grave and steals the valuables. We soon find out this is something he does on a regular basis. Masson is a gambler in debt, and he pays off the debt he owes to some people on the wrong side of the law. He even visits a coroner’s assistant and goes through the corpses brought in for autopsies.

When some of the coffins Masson digs up are revealed to be empty, he realizes that rats in the graveyard are stealing them. When they steal the corpse of a decorated officer buried with a sword gifted to him by King George, Masson decides to follow the rats into the underground tunnels.

Here he comes across countless rodents, blows off one of his toes to shoot them away, and is even attacked by a human-sized rat. Masson escapes into an underground “black church” where a legless corpse attacks him. This is also the place where the rats bring corpses to eat. Masson here comes across a huge pile of skeletons and many valuables that were buried with the dead. While escaping, he finds himself inside one of the coffins the rats had earlier emptied.

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Taking him to be a fresh corpse, the rats feed on Masson. When the two thieves from the first scene dig up the corpse, they find it is Masson, but soon rats begin popping out of his mouth and other body parts, making us aware he has been eaten from the inside by the rodents.

Masson, who went back on his own words about the beginning of civilization and honouring the dead, himself did not preach what he practised. Just like rodents scavenge for food to survive, he too scavenged the bodies of the deceased to make ends meet. 

At the end, it is his greed that kills him. The rats coming out of his body symbolize how he has now become one with the creatures he had set out to fight.