This post will be concerning , and background of the Ratking pieces that might not be apparent, from feedback.
The two protagonist documentary film students were chosen as the main characters in reaction to Lovecraft’s Miskatonik students often being featured.
Their subject matters I felt were contemporary and common enough to lead to convergent paths to the same end.
The shanghai tunnel history is based on actual tunnel tour information, though is likely not fact.
There is no ‘cult’ in The Ratking and I don’t think that was expressed clearly enough in the reveal.
The marking/symbol is not a religious symbol but a marking (supposedly) of simply a food source. Like a hobo tag. The people spotted with the symbol are not members of the cult but are people who are not likely to be missed(vagrants, street kids, elderly)
The Ratking itself is a fungal organism (very loosely based on Cordyceps) of an unknown origin. It arrived somehow in the shanghai tunnels when they were in use for transporting cargo and sailors to the city. It requires a certain spectrum of light to thrive, and or host organisms to assist its life cycle. Something Portland doesn’t have a great quantity of due to a large amount of overcast days blocking these spectrums. This is likely the reasons it was able to be isolated and sealed in the tunnels.
The tunnels being sealed off isolated the organism further and was living a limited existence off of actual rat populations, until decay opened a section where the Pig Farmer’s pigs could gain access to the tunnels. The fungus acts in a sophisticated way with the nervous system and behavior of vertebrates suggesting it has lived with them for a while and has adapted to their biology.
It is unclear if the pigfarmer is a reliable narrator or not, but let’s assume he is.
After slaughtering his pigs due to their strange behavior he sold the meat to what he would call “hippie types”, but in actuality these were post hippy babyboomers(upper middle class idealistic that would be invested in a lot of ‘liberal’ agendas and consumer behavior), that had transitioned from idealism to more modern cultural norms. This was also not clearly illustrated in the film. The idea that people of an idealistic background could be turned into types of exploitative people they had loathed. This would hint at the true sustainability of cultures that would eat only organic and local food, but again this was not really clear in the final film at all. Part of this was due to casting conflicts, and time.
These fairly well educated people were familiar with psychedelics and probable initially were very drawn to this new experience. They sought the source of the infected meat, and the pigfarmer disclosed it.
The assumption is here that the tunnels hold a terrible secret, and that’s the location the protagonists are looking for, mean while the “pot house” grow room mentioned in the opening is the actual location(lost on a lot of viewers). The reality is that everything that was in the tunnels was moved out long ago and they set up this ‘grow’ space within a typical looking Portland home.
They build a lightless “moat” around the grow room to keep the ratking isolated. They then lure/bring various people to the ratking, and the ratking either uses them to add to its ‘body’, or adds them to its compost pile from which to feed. This compost pile also contains parts of its body that have decayed too severely.
Obviously the Ratking was not completely contained and was starting (or all along) influencing its “captors”.
Often visitors would come and be marked and enjoy a “short nap” where they would experience the intense “dreams” under the influence of the ratking’s spores. These were in fact a form of genetic memory that was translating into their minds (this is huge leap for an organism, butit made the story more easily understood.) It is an aggressively adapting and evolving organism, so its possible it has this ability and it’s still refining it with humans. The people that experience it think of it as an intense mind altering psychedelic/ or altered consciousness experience. i.e. a drug trip of sorts.
The knitting that makes up the nest was reference to certain types of insects that can control the behavior of their hosts. There is a wasp that can paralyze and impregnate a spider with eggs. The spider will then adopt behavior to weave a webbed nest for the offspring.
This was a portland trope of knitting/knitters that were being influenced by the Ratking fungus and made the nest.
The babyboomer types thought they were in control, but they also serve the Ratking. It was never shown in the movie but they had become nervous about containing it and utilizing its “visions”.
So, yes the end shot, is a mass pile of humans(and possibly other animals) the fungal organism has stitched together to form its body. They work in unison.
There is good evidence that the man from vector control and the pigfarmer are in on the deal (as the pigfarmer references a pal in vector control).