Downer Ending: But a hilarious downer ending, which, in this movie, is somehow possible.
Ives: That was... really... sneaky.
With a touch of Died Happily Ever After - Boyd got Reassigned To The Frontier because of his cowardice, becomes a cannibal because he's afraid to die, but in the end he willingly accepts death hoping to stop Ives' cannibal conspiracy. If he had only thrown out the "Stew a la Major Knox" beforehand...
Mad Eye: Every time Ives is about to do something even more grotesque than normal, one eye half-closes and the other eye gets wider. When he's sane (or acting sane), they're both perfectly normal.
Magical Native American: Mostly averted. George and Martha do tell the cast about the Wendigo Myth, but the rest of the time spend time either caring for the horses and doing other chores (Martha) or getting stoned (George).
Mildly Military: The guys at Fort Spencer spend most of their time just kind of hanging out, eating, or getting stoned. Granted, there's not much better to do in the middle of nowhere, but still.
Mood Dissonance: Blood, murder, freezing weather, ambiguous moral decisions, character flaws, and... stoners. Comedy, drug humor, everybody here was Reassigned to Antarctica... but the emotional impact is unhindered.
Mr. Fanservice: Boyd, played by Guy Pearce. Also, the extremely-muscular Reich seems to have his shirt off a lot.
New Meat: Boyd starts out like this, but unfortunately doesn't get any better, resulting in his reassignment.
No Escape but Down: When Boyd is cornered by Ives/Colqhoun at the cliff's top. He jumps, without any landing spot. He survives, but his leg is badly broken. It's one of the film's more memorable scenes.
Shown Their Work: The movie is, on occasion, oppressively realistic in its portrayal of its mountainous, unpleasant terrain and the military of its time.
It's with touch of Real Life Writes the Plot - there were serious problems with weather during production. The constant dissonance between heavy snow, thaw and relatively high temperatures around Fort Spencer? It's all Throw It In.
Suicidal Gotcha: Messy, and without the common convenient landing spot. Boyd actually jumps off a cliff, falls down through tree limbs and into a Pit Trap, breaking the ever-loving crap out of his leg in the process. Also, the end of the movie, where Boyd lures Ives into a bear trap, which kills them both.
Took a Level in Badass: Boyd spends the entire film as the designated wimp (he even gets a medal of cowardice), until the last 3 scenes when he decides to fight Ives, using all of his new cannibal superpowers.
In the backstory, Ives, who went from a tubercular, suicidal mess to a Diabolical Master MindMade of Iron. And Col. Hart, who, in his first scene, cracks walnut shells under a giant book, but in a later scene, is able to crush them with his bare hands. All through the magic of cannibalism.
Trailers Always Spoil: One of the biggest offenders of '99. Before even the lector starts to comment the film, we already see Robert Carlyle's character as an inhabitant of Fort Spencer. Then half way through we also learn that Jeffrey Jones' character is a cannibal, Major Knox is killed and turned into a stew and Guy Pearce will fight to death with Robert Carlyle. And just to add insult to the injury, Robert Carlyle is shown in his Colqhoun persona, pointing a gun at Jeremy Davies. The trailer spoiled every single twist aside from the final scene.
Unreliable Narrator: Which part of Colqhoun's story was a fabrication and which was truth? We know that Ives ate some people and that he lived in that cave. But what about all the details?
Word of God / Shrug of God: Pertaining to the identity of the villain. Did Reverend Colqhoun take Colonel Ives' identity after killing him? Or was he Ives all along? Director Antonia Bird says Ives is his real name, and the Reverend was a false identity. Conversely, screenwriter Ted Griffin has literally said he doesn't know one way or the other, and that the audience can make up their own minds.