‘Infested’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Is Kaleb Dead Or Alive?


Sebastien Vanicek’s feature debut is a good way to forget there was ever a good creature horror made about spiders. Infested pulls out all the stops to give you everything you look for in films about creepy critters where the characters are more than bags of flesh and blood ready to be ripped apart. Bringing French gentrification and the horrors of class discrimination into the mix, Infested amps up the dread you’re supposed to feel for a building full of people as an unprecedented spider infestation picks them off one by one. 

Spoiler Alert

What happens in the film?

The men in the desert filling up the creepy holes with gas probably don’t know what they’re up against. They’re there with a purpose, though. To capture a supremely poisonous species of spider, one of which has just given one of them a painful death. In Paris, while out hunting for a gift for his neighbor, who’s moving soon, Kaleb makes the grave mistake of buying the pretty spider in a plastic box. Kaleb’s fascination with creepy critters and amphibians has made his room a sanctuary of sorts. The excitement over the newly acquired arachnid is the only thing that keeps his mind off his annoyance over his sister Manon’s loud repair work. Their mother’s death has caused this ever-growing distance between the siblings. Kaleb’s the kind of guy who’s as righteous as life allows him to be. Like the rest of the residents in his seedy apartment who’ve gotten used to living on the fringes of the Parisian sociopolitical structure, Kaleb’s likely never hoped to get a regular job. Selling counterfeit Snickers out of an apartment with leaky pipes is his necessity. But his buddy Mathys’ stolen bike business is the morally gray area he isn’t too approving of. In a hurry to go over to Claudia’s to give her a last hoorah before she moves to a place with a yard, Kaleb keeps the spider in a shoe box for the time being. His neighbor Toumani Ngannou’s “thing” is having exclusively TN kicks. But as the spider makes its way out of a hole in the shoebox and sneaks inside one of Toumani’s sneakers to seek some darkness, it marks the first of the many deaths that are to follow. 

How do they figure out that Kaleb’s spider started it all?

Toumani’s gnarly death and the cops’ cryptic anxiety over what went down understandably sent a wave of panic and speculation over the residents. Gilles comes off as someone who’s always been obnoxiously suspicious of Kaleb. With his mind made up that Kaleb deals heroin, Gilles throws random accusations at Kaleb. Things are already a bit tense at Kaleb’s place, with Manon’s friend Lila and her boyfriend Jordy showing up. They don’t seem to be too fond of Manon’s brother, and the feeling is reciprocated. But the hostility doesn’t stop Jordy from speaking in Kaleb’s favor when the group is muttering about the possibility of Kaleb being a drug dealer. The real threat soon makes itself known when Lila gets trapped in the bathroom with countless spiders that crawl out of the vent. From the ghastly sight of Toumani’s death, we’ve already seen the OG spider birthing hundreds of babies. Apparently, the fear of impending danger makes these critters reproduce and grow in size as if they’re in a hurry to evolve. The group narrowly escapes the venomous bites, making it difficult for Kaleb to keep his mouth shut any longer. He does come clean about starting this whole mess, but they only get a slight idea about whatever the hell is going on when Jordy looks up the possible family of spiders with this specific defense mechanism. Kaleb’s building has likely been taken over by thousands of fiercely multiplying Sicariidae, one of whom has just taken the adorably grumpy custodian Mrs. Zhao’s life. 

How do they plan to survive?

In a situation where there’s hardly any likelihood of coming up with a way to exterminate all those deadly critters, the only sensible thing would be to get the hell out of dodge. That’s Jordy’s plan anyway. But Kaleb’s sentimental side wouldn’t let him run without saving as many of his neighbors as possible. There’s a clear sense that Kaleb’s family has lived a big chunk of their lives in this building. And the neighbor who used to adore his mom feels like family to Kaleb after his mom’s passing. Giving Manon a needless earful about moving on from their mom’s death, Kaleb takes Mathys and goes out to save as many as he can within 15 minutes. Unfortunately, Claudia’s dream of moving to a house with a yard died a horrible death when the spiders made a nest out of her body. Seeing a spider come out of her head sort of desensitizes Kaleb and Mathys to the horror to come. It’s an unforeseen hell they’ve been trapped in, where an old man howls, holding his dead son, and another shudders in a corner, looking at all the spiders trapped under the mugs. Kaleb and his friends have come to accept that everyone else is beyond saving. With the spiders making Gilles pay for his vicious ambush, at least one source of trouble is out of their way. 

Why did the police seal them in? 

It didn’t take the spiders long to give the building a macabre makeover with thick curtains of webs and bodies desecrated with baby critters. To keep a clear head is the hardest thing of all in a situation like this. However, knowing each other through and through is certainly an advantage that helps them keep their ideas flowing. The spiders taking over the front gate sends them looking for a way out through the parking garage. But that’s an even more bone-chilling ordeal, considering the corridor’s got the worst infestation they’ve seen yet. Fortunately, the critters seem to be a bit threatened by light. Unfortunately, the lights in this building have wind-up switches. Manon makes her case and volunteers to be the one keeping the light on as the rest of them cross. I guess selfless heroics run in the family. Lila’s arachnophobia does make you feel for her. But the group gets through it with sheer desperation to survive, even with Manon’s near-brush with death when the light goes out behind her. When pulling the door handle with the last bit of their frustrated strength doesn’t open it, they realize they’ve been locked inside this nightmarish vivarium. Lila, being a municipal cop and being vocally enraged against law enforcement and the media’s indifference to these deaths, paints a rather sad picture. By choosing to contain the deadly infestation and not even making an attempt to rescue the residents, the cops are practically saying that their lives matter as much as those critters’. By the time Kaleb and his friends decide to hike up 15 floors to get to the roof, Jordy’s unfortunately trapped in the web. Leaving him behind proved to be the hardest for Lila. It’s even harder for her to listen to the distant screams. She can’t even say for sure if it’s Jordy. But it hurts all the same, knowing he did his best to keep her safe and died alone in the end. 

Who survives the infestation?

Alexandre Jamin’s cinematography is part of the overarching narrative in Infested. How intimate it gets you with the characters and their tragedy tells you what words could never hope to communicate. The gloom that covers every part of the building is something the residents have accepted as their truth. Just like they’ve accepted, they’re not the kind of people rescue vehicles are dispatched for. The guy smoking away with a dead man in his arms makes you wonder how frequent loss must be for these people that they’re so unruffled by it. But Jordy’s death is damaging to Kaleb for multiple reasons. We’ve seen shaky shots of a picture he has in his room, likely of him with a friend. When Lila’s effervescent grief makes her hold Kaleb accountable for the mistakes he’s made all throughout his life, we get to know that Kaleb and Jordy used to be best friends. The odd pets in the glass cases are the next best thing for Kaleb. He and his best friend originally planned to make a reptile zoo. That dream died when Kaleb’s iguana bit Jordy in the leg, an injury that got so bad that Jordy still felt the pain well into adulthood. Kaleb took their miscommunication to heart. And the silence thereafter only served to distance them even further. “Infested” stores the bulk of the emotional resolutions for its ending. As Kaleb gets to know how much he meant to Jordy, even though there’s no way to make things better now, it fixes something in him. 

Somewhere around the first act, Kaleb confiscated a bag full of firecrackers from some kids who were messing with Mrs. Zhao. These now come in handy as they make their way up the stairs. The Molotov cocktail proves to be especially spicy against the vicious spiders. Looking for better provisions in Gilles’ apartment, the group doesn’t expect cops to bolt in. In the unnecessary struggle made increasingly hostile by the cops, Kaleb gets maced but still kills a cop who is about to strangle Mathys. But it’s unrealistic to expect them to overpower a group of ruthless cops with weapons at their disposal. As an unconscious Kaleb wakes up in the parking garage next to Manon, Lila, and Mathys, it gets all the more evident that the cops don’t give a damn about their lives. 

In Infested‘s ending, Mathys puts his imminent death to good use. He was already bitten. The least he could do was go out as a hero. As he forces the door to the corridor open, the incoming army of spiders distracts the cops. The plan is for Lila to start her car as Kaleb looks for Manon in the chaos. Kaleb getting shot in the process makes them take shelter in a car. The depressing truth at this point is that they either get killed by the spiders or the cops. It’s agonizing for the two to helplessly await death as the spiders crawl in through the broken window. Luckily, Lila’s car’s headlights slow the spiders down long enough for Kaleb and Manon to escape and get into her car. But the wait and the circumstantial vulnerability gave Kaleb and Manon a chance, and Kaleb’s final confrontation with the biggest spider blocking the garage door kind of gives you a whole other perspective on these critters. To take a gamble on his understanding of the spiders, Kaleb gets out of the car and instructs Lila to turn the headlights off. Even though Kaleb’s standing right there, the spider walks away without attacking him, implying that they’re only violent when they feel threatened. Don’t get me wrong, “infested” wholeheartedly means to scare the bejesus out of you with this horrifying infestation of 8-legged arachnids. But it also has its subtle ways of speaking against the cruelty faced by these protected species. The spider that started it all didn’t seek to hurt anyone until it was taken away from its home and brought to a place that threatened its life. In a way, Kaleb, Manon, and Lila’s survival is just for the sake of giving it a trope-y satisfying resolution.

But it also won’t be fair to deny that in Infested‘s ending, these three overcome some of the most excruciating hurdles to earn their survival. The picture in Kaleb’s room predictably turns out to be from the time when Jordy was his best friend. He symbolically gives Jordy a proper burial when he buries the picture in the ground. Sometime after the tragedy, an ACAB slogan on the to-let ads on a nearby board practically spells out that the spiders aren’t the real antagonists of this story. The casualties could’ve been cut in half had the cops at least tried to save the residents of the building. The truth is, they kind of knew what they were up against when they came to inspect Toumani’s death. But their bigoted eyes took one look at the building and sentenced the residents to death. 

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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjee
In cinema, Lopamudra finds answers to some fundamental questions of life. And since jotting things down always makes overthinking more fun, writing is her way to give this madness a meaning.

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