Many of the problems the evil organization suffers is heavily implied to be caused by the gods themselves. Presumably they are getting bored with the old formula. And what happens when a horror franchise gets tired? Aliens vs Predators, Freddy vs Jason, CROSSOVERS, such as every monster getting loose at once. The gods deliberately caused a situation where everything would be released.
When Marty "dies", the whole operation is interrupted by an earthquake, which Sitterson attributes to the enjoyment of someone "downstairs." However, it never happens when anyone else is killed because they're NOT actually happy. The earthquake comes after Hadley tells the Eldritch Abomination that "the fool" is dead when he had really survived.
The song playing while Dana is brutally almost-killed in the background is "Roll With the Changes" by REO Speedwagon. Lyrics include "so when you're tired of the same old story/ oh, turn some pages/ I will be here when you're ready to roll with the changes." Very sneaky, Joss.
Why did Patience pass Dana instead of killing her? The monsters still follow the "rules" of the ritual; in the beginning, the others only attacked Kurt when he tried to protect Jules, who was supposed to die first. Since Marty, the Fool, was still alive, Patience went after and tried to kill him instead of attacking the Virgin. Also, because in the horror film narrative that the Redneck Zombie Torture Family would be following, if their story was a movie, Patience would have shown up towards the end to help Dana, the Final Girl, figure out how to lay the Buckners to rest. Because the usual flow of narrative (the way the ritual must unfold, as well as the plot of the Buckner's "movie") has been disrupted, Patience is irrelevant and never fulfills her role.
Why a unicorn? Because it doesn't have to be specially trained to leave The Virgin unharmed/for last! There are also myths about man-eating unicorns.
Some early myths about unicorns include them goring evil people. Explains why the hell a unicorn could be considered a "monster" set upon teenagers that need to be "punished" for their transgressions. Also explains why it was goring workers.
In the opening scene, Hadley complains to Sitterson that his wife is over-preparing for their planned pregnancy, which has yet to occur. He says that the more prepared you are to have a child, the less likely you are to have one. This foreshadows how being Crazy-Prepared will make you vulnerable to the tiniest deviations that slip through all your perfectly-crafted plans. The agency prepared for everything —except for the "ineffectual comic relief" just barely escaping what, a few inches to the side, would have been a fatal wound, which snowballed into worse and worse consequences later on.
The tunnel fails to collapse, and the demolitions expert claim it was "a power glitch from upstairs." It's easy to assume they're referring to the unseen directors, considering the controller's references to "upstairs" meaning management and "downstairs" meaning The Ancient Ones, but what it really was is Marty, who survived the zombie, found the maintainence panel, and had since been fooling around with the wires from literally upstairs!
Marty's bag is that he's the only one who's intuiting the nature of the scenario around them. When they go into the cellar, he immediately gravitates to the film strip. Holy shit. Of course he did. That's the movie going one step more meta than before.
The Ancient God's arm looks strangely human-like for an Eldritch Abomination. However it makes sense considering the Gods are actually a representation of the audience.
This film is actually a metaphor...for itself. The controllers have been going through the monotony of a ritualistic sacrifice to assuage the "Gods" (read: audience), until things don't go according to the formula and then it changes the world forever. The giant hand at the end is a symbol for the audience rebelling against the cliched and formulaic horror movie genre.
But, the Ancient Ones rose specifically BECAUSE they didn't get their cliched and formulaic movie...
The voyeuristic, first-person view that is part of slasher movies and dumb actions of the victims has caused audiences to want the teenagers to die in many of them. The more this movie goes along, the more you want them to die for a different reason.
In the opening scene, it is mentioned that the last big upset for the organization happened in 1998. What happened in 1998? "The Last Broadcast" was released and is usually looked to as the first of the modern found footage horror genre.
Or... as mentioned in the main wiki, Rodriguez' The Faculty was released, where everybody survives because of homemade drugs (it's mentioned that the only failure, in '98, was the Chem department's fault).
As the finale shows, the Controllers have all sorts of cool and exotic critters at their disposal to terrorize and kill a bunch of kids. But in a film that's all about deconstructing the horror genre, it's only natural that the film would use something as cliche-ridden and commonplace as the humble zombie just to further get its point across.
Excuse me-"zombie redneck torture family", not "zombie'. They're two different species.
BUT! "redneck torture family" is an important distinction! The movie is at least in part a reaction to Torture Porn in horror and a voyeuristic that enjoys seeing things through the monster's eyes. What better monster than one who gets a "husband bulge" from "cutting the flesh"?
What's one of the things you don't want to do in a teenage slasher film? Drink alcohol! What happens to the controllers after their presumptive victory champagne? THEY DIE!
An alternative theory is that the ritual in that case was doomed to begin with specifically because the "sacrifices" were children. None of them adequately fit the archetypes they needed to fulfill, and so the formula didn't work.
Except that would be following the American archetype, not the Japanese one.
Except that the Ancient Ones demand that the five archetypes be fulfilled. At first, it could be Fridge Horror by assuming that one of the 9-year-olds must be a whore, but then I remembered that children are taught by someone, and I didn't notice a teacher in the classroom. The teacher must be the whore! It is possible to have an athlete, a class clown (fool), a scholar and (hopefully!) virgins in a group of 9-year-olds, so the archetypes would be fulfilled.
The archetypes for the American branch, as described by the American Director, need not conform with the Japanese archetypes, and vice versa. The archetypes for J-Horror are very different from those in American film —other than the kids having sex in a car in The Ring, NONE of the five archetypes described at the end of this film are found in The Ring or Ju-on or Chakushin Ari, for instance.
Why was there a "System Purge" button right there, unguarded, and so user-friendly that someone with no prior knowledge of the facility could activate it? Keep in mind, this film is all about deconstructing formulaic horror movie cliches (as well as a big middle finger to movie-goers who keep demanding that sort of thing), and what's two of the biggest cliches of a secret underground science lab? A big, red, shiny self-destruct button and nopreliminarysafety precautions.
The odds of anyone even getting to that level of the facility were extremely remote, much less pressing random buttons to do who knows what right before hitting the big red one.
None of which explains why the button exists in the 'real world' level of the story. Things do not exist on that level solely to evoke tropes—they exist towards the sole end of appeasing the Ancient Ones. Invoking tropes happens within the story because the ritual demands it—no other reason exists. That button having that function, being so easy to activate, being unguarded and more importantly, having the entire facility completely unprepared for its activation (why did no one build a door or some walls with the materials used for the cages?) was nothing more than a poorly thought out plot device.
The button was intended to be used in case it became necessary or desirable to get rid of the current set of monsters. Perhaps the Ancient Ones have occasionally supplied new sets. Or it was a last-ditch defence measure.
Perhaps the Controllers thought that they could press it to sacrifice their whole facility to the Ancient Ones in a particularly cliché-laden death.
If that were the case then they would have been appeased in the end. Then again, maybe they were, then got pissed again when the Director fell into their pit and broke the Fourth Wall?
Why do the monsters only attack humans and not each other? Lin says that the monsters were provided to the company by the Ancient Ones for the sacrifices. The monsters all only exist for one purpose: to kill human beings. They don't attack each other because they recognize each other as nonhuman.
Dana reacts oddly when she is told that she fits the role of The Virgin. Dana's reaction is because she knows that she is not a virgin. However, if you think about it, none of the other friends seem to fit their assigned roles at first. Jules is anything but stupid and Curt initially fits the role of The Scholar better than The Athlete. Of course, the organization has manipulated everyone's personalities to fit their roles in The Ritual. But what about Dana? Her personality doesn't seem to change much throughout the movie even with the manipulators in place. Dana fits the role of The Virgin solely because of the situation she is in. She recently got out of a bad relationship with a teacher and specifically states that she doesn't want the trip to be a "hook-up". She put herself in the role of The Virgin for that weekend.
The Director even says "We work with what we have."
The Harbinger wasn't calling about the kids. He was warning the crew about the end of the world. They ignored him, and that's why they were punished in the end, just like the kids they've sent to their deaths for years.
The Controllers even follow the phone call with a smug assertion that the victims are complicit in their deaths because they choose to ignore him!
Amongst the monsters are special infected from Left 4 Dead. Now what does the director do in that game again?