Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Ending Explained article. I am trying to put a couple of these out a week. I am also trying to focus on some of the movies that we have recently reviewed. With that in mind, today we are taking a look at Gnaw. This film is also titled Apartment 212 in a lot of places. I’ll likely refer to the two names interchangeably throughout.
A Fairly Middle Road Horror
As far as horror movies go. Apartment 212 was about as middle of the road as you can get. While presenting itself, at least initially, as something of a body horror. It quickly turns into a creature feature with an adorable antagonist. Did they really have to make this little bastard so cute? Are we supposed to be scared of it?
Anyways, the ending, of course, had a little twist. Perhaps something that maybe needs a little explaining so lets get to it. As always, we will quickly recap the events of the movie. If you haven’t watched Apartment 212 yet, you will want to skip this. This article spoils the hell out the film. Check out our review of Gnaw (Apartment 212). Watch the film and then come back. Let’s take a look.
A Strange, Enticing, Box
So we kick things off here with a woman browsing an antiques shop. She picks up an intriguing looking box and walks out with it. The camera pans to show a man lying on the ground covered in sores. He has a bottle of alcohol next to him and looks to be dying.
It is likely that he has taken a bunch of pills in a suicide attempt. Either that or he is suffering an infection. Needless to say, this will come into the story a little later on. The box that the woman stole was a Dybbuk box. It was the cause of the man’s death and will be the cause of hers.
What is a Dybbuk Box?
So what is a Dybbuk box? Well, first of all, we need to know what a Dybbuk is. A Dybbuk is a malicious spirit of Jewish legend that possesses the body of a person. Once possessed by a Dybbuk. There are only two ways that the Dybbuk will leave. Either when it has accomplished its initial goal or through exorcism.
A Dybbuk box is a fairly ridiculous story. Conjured up by some dude who wanted to sell a shitty piece of furniture on eBay. He claimed the cabinet he was selling contained a spirit. A Dybbuk, and that the box kept it locked up.
Due to this dude’s creative story, we have been bombarded with numerous Dybbuk Box movies. The problem I have with that is that none are particularly good. Kudos to the guy for creating something so marketable, though. As far as Gnaw goes, the Dybbuk stuff here acts as a simple backdrop. The movie doesn’t go too deep into the legend of the Dybbuk. It’s more of a vehicle for the story really.
A Fresh Start
Moving on, our protagonist Jennifer (Penelope Mitchell) is moving into a new apartment. It is revealed that she is escaping her abusive ex husband. She doesn’t have a tremendous amount of furniture with her. She also seems to be without employment.
Upon moving in she meets resident handy man Terry (Kyle Gass). The two hit it off and Terry introduces her to the landlady Claudette (Sally Kirkland). Claudette seems to be a bit of an abrupt person with no tolerance for bullshit. Jennifer also briefly meets her neighbour. Covered in sores. Her neighbour quickly retreats into her apartment without saying a word. This neighbour should be familiar to the viewer. It is the woman who stole the Dybbuk box from the antique store. Notice how the sores are reminiscent of the sores the owner of the antique store had? She is about to suffer a similar fate.
Attempting to sleep. Jennifer is kept awake by the crying of her neighbour. Taking place, seemingly, throughout the night. The vent in her room allows the sound to travel right through. The lack of sleep caused by this leads Jennifer to oversleep. Consequently, she is late for a job interview.
Throwing on some clothes, she makes her way there. With her husband’s claims that she will never be more than a waitress ringing in her head. Jennifer lies on her application form. When asked to provide references. It becomes clear that she wasn’t telling the truth. The interviewer makes derogatory comments regarding her history of waitressing. In Jennifer’s mind, confirming what her husband said. As she is leaving. She notices the other women attending the job interview smartly dressed. I would assume she is wondering whether she was ever cut out for this job at all.
As Jennifer heads out side, a traffic cop is giving her a ticket. This will come into play a little later on. A high school friend passes by as she is lamenting her bad luck. The friend works at the building Jennifer was applying for a job in. She tells her that they could use a person like her. She will pull some strings and get her an interview in two weeks. The interview should be merely a formality. Jennifer is elated and rushes home to mark the day on her calendar.
A Tragic Turn of Events
Shortly after, Jennifer is walking past her neighbour’s apartment when the window explodes. Her neighbour, seemingly unable to cope anymore, has shot herself. The Dybbuk box has claimed another victim. Jennifer is, naturally, traumatised and has to spend a night in a diner.
Returning the next day, the neighbour’s belongings are in a pile outside. Cleared out by Terry. Jennifer notices the Dybbuk box among the stuff. I am assuming it has the ability to entice people to possess it. Nevertheless, this will be the source of all of Jennifer’s upcoming problems. She picks it up and takes it back into her apartment.
Horrible Sores and a Pain in the Arse
From here on out Jennifer begins waking up with itchy sores. Even worse, her ex husband turns out to be a cop. Remember that parking ticket she received? That parking ticket allowed her abusive ex husband to find out where she lives. He is now back in the picture causing her problems.
He threatens her. Before sexually assaulting her with a ridiculously painful looking boob grab. Luckily, Terry comes to the apartment just in time. Jennifer eventually confides in Terry. He makes some suggestions on how she should handle it. He also reminds her of the toughness of turtles. This somewhat inspires Jennifer.
Despite Terry’s encouragement. The horrible itching continues and more sores appear each day. She goes to the doctors and is told they look more like bites. Thinking she has bed bugs, she buys products to exterminate them. Unable to sleep, She looks terrible, covered in open wounds. It looks like she has a serious drug problem.
Jennifer’s landlady threatens her. It appears her husband has been speaking to her and told her Jennifer is on drugs. The stress is becoming too much for her. She heads into her neighbour’s apartment to look for clues as to why she died. She believes something has come in from the vents and is now tormenting her.
When she makes it inside, she sees smashed mirrors and drawings all over the walls. The drawings hint at a small demon like creature. The eyes that surround it likely suggest a solution to controlling the demon. What a shame this woman preferred to communicate in cave paintings rather than words.
A Hidden Diary
Well, I said it’s a shame the neighbour could only draw and not use words. But that isn’t entirely true. When Terry gave her the keys to the apartment. Jennifer found the key for the box on the keyring. She opens the box and finds a diary in there. The diary belongs to the neighbour so she runs a bath and settles down to read. I can’t be the only one that hates the feeling of paper on damp fingertips, right? This scene sort of goes through me a bit because I keep thinking of that.
The diary initially goes into the neighbour’s guilt for taking the box. It seems she was a kleptomaniac and took it for a thrill. Something she apparently did quite regularly. She draws pictures of the box and talks about loving the design. She thinks the gremlin like creature on it is cute and puts a flower in its hand. Much like Jennifer did earlier. The drawings then start to depict bed bugs. Clearly the sores had started appearing on the neighbour, at this point. She likely thought that her house was infested, much the way Jennifer did.
A Potential Explanation?
A few pages in and the drawings are becoming extremely dark. They begin to transform into pictures of toothy demons. At the end of the diary. A page containing information on the Jedak is folded up. This is the explanation for what has been happening. Jennifer has brought a malicious spirit in to her home. It was bound to the jewellery box she took.
The paper refers to the Jedak as an unstoppable demon that possesses your home. It wakes in the night while you sleep and feeds on you. It is unkillable and will never leave until someone else takes possession of it. A poem on the back, when read aloud, appears to offer some form of protection. If you stare at the demon and don’t break eye contact. It can’t attack you, it will simply freeze.
A Heated Encounter
The above obviously plays heavily into the ending. The demon comes alive and begins attacking Jennifer. She fights back. Earlier in the movie, her proficiency at softball was alluded to. Jennifer had trophies for playing and kept a bat and glove in her apartment. She uses her quick reactions to hit the demon with the bat. She also manages to trap it in a blanket, beating it up. All of this seems to have fairly minimal effect.
She begins making eye contact with it to force the creature to freeze. Realising that this is what she is doing, it attempts to take out the lights. Jennifer uses a combination of a candle and a mirror to make the Jedak freeze. She then slowly walks up to it and grabs it. Telling it that it only understands suffering. Jennifer places it into the microwave. Apparently cooking for 2 minutes per pound. The Jedak eventually comes bursting out of the microwave. Jennifer has extremely quick reactions from playing softball. These honed reactions allow her to anticipate its trajectory and catch it.
Jennifer shouts at the demon. She tells it that they are going to exist together then they need to come to some sort of agreement. The Jedak, seemingly understanding and feeling quite beat up, turns back to stone.
So What Happened?
Remember how a Dybbuk can only be removed by exorcism? It seems like this scene is something of a metaphor. Jennifer now believes in herself. She has proven that she can overcome her demons. Even the physical ones. She doesn’t have to listen to her ex husband anymore. She is capable of being strong, she does have skills and is worthwhile.
In what is, perhaps, a little bit of an on the nose allegory. Jennifer’s exorcising of her own demons acted as an exorcising of the Dybbuk. It was no longer attacking her and turned back to stone. That still leaves the Dybbuk box, though. What can Jennifer do with it? Well, that leads us on to the final scene.
Why Did Jennifer Call Her Ex Husband?
In something that may seem a little confusing to some viewers. Jennifer calls her ex husband up. She wants to move back in with him. He comes to her apartment and accepts her request to live with him again. Her husband always believed she wouldn’t succeed and, in his mind, he was right. He refuses to help move her boxes though. Jennifer says she understands but can he take a few bags of her clothes back with him. Just in case she wants to spend a few nights with him before she is done moving. Her husband agrees and grabs a few bags.
The question is, why does Jennifer want to move back in with her ex husband? The suggestion here is that Jennifer is setting her husband up. She has placed the Dybbuk box among her clothes. Her husband will take it back. Put her clothes away, put the box on a dresser thinking it is her jewellery. The Jedak will come to life while he is sleeping. Begin feeding on him leading to a whole new cycle of pain. Her ex husband, tormented by the Jedak, will likely commit suicide. Leaving Jennifer to be completely free.
A Happy Ending
The movie ends with her putting the wooden heart shaped “Home” sign on her door. Indicating that she is home now and, likely, happy. The ending credits show that the pet turtle is absolutely fine. It was actually a tortoise but whatever. All tortoises are turtles but not all turtles are tortoises. Turtles are tough, remember how Terry told Jennifer to be like a turtle.
Kind of Metaphorical?
So the whole thing is an allegory of sorts. The Jedak likely reflects the demons that exist inside of Jennifer. Self doubt, anxiety, a feeling that she couldn’t succeed alone. They kept her awake at night in the same way the Jedak did. Little nagging thoughts just like the little nagging sores. It is those very demons that made her realise she is actually strong. Just like when she fought the Jedak and won. She had suffered for so long that she was no longer willing to take it. Where many committed suicide, Jennifer fought back. Exorcising her demons allowed her to move on. It’s a positive message with fairly middle of the road execution.
It’s a shame they made the Jedak so adorable. This little fucker was cute and not at all threatening. It was more of a nuisance than anything. This robbed the movie of its tension. The runtime was too long as well. Not to mention some of the annoying camera work. Either way, Gnaw is an okay movie that is a fairly undemanding and easy watch. Thanks for reading and check back for more. I update throughout the week so there is always something new.