When they go down to the basement, there are hundreds of artifacts, each of which summons a different monster. It's very entertaining to watch the Facility staff betting on the teens, but doesn't this undermine the meta-commentary on horror films? The only horror film with a similar "room full of scary artifacts" is The Conjuring, & the scene in that film doesn't serve the same purpose. Wouldn't it be more accurate to have them enter a room full of artifacts which all have the same theme? After all, in The Evil Dead (1981), they don't find the Necromonicon amongst otherworldly puzzle boxes or conch shells...
Think of it in terms of horror fans going to Netflix and picking out which movie to watch, skimming through all the titles, promo images and blurbs, and it works.
The Ancient Ones are a stand-in for the typical horror fan, which is why they get all pissy at "rituals" (ie. films) which subvert the formula. One problem though, despite how wildly the events of The Cabin in the Woods have differed from the average by the time Marty & Dana reach the Facility, apparently the Ancient Ones will be satisfied as long as Marty dies before Dana does. But the sort of typical horror fan the film satirises would actually be much more interested in a film/"ritual" with a non-subversive tone & ambience, rather than something really out-there in which the whore dies first & the virgin last, wouldn't they? The film itself implies this by referencing films in which that order isn't maintained, such as The Evil Dead (1981) & Alien.
Every time one of the archetypes is killed, one of the Controllers pulls a lever which releases a blood-like substance. Clearly, this cannot be the actual blood of the victim as one is a grease-spot at the bottom of a chasm, another is at the bottom of a deep lake and Marty isn't really dead. So, if it is just animal blood or whatever, with a significance that is more symbolic than real, then why do they have to actually kill anyone? Can't they just fake it?
The Ancient Ones are clearly aware of what's happening aboveground, else there wouldn't have been any need to compel Jules and Curt to have sex outdoors, "giving the audience what they want". Releasing blood onto the carvings of the five archetypes was probably just window-dressing; it's the actual suffering and death that the Bigger Bad gods are into.
If the people backing the operation are as influential as they seem, why are horror movies allowed to be made? I mean, a big factor behind the failure rate probably is due people becoming genre savvy thanks to watching genre films.
Genre films are a representation of a cultural id - the rituals follow the cultural assumptions, rather than being set in stone. That's why Japan's ritual is so different from the American one. In other words, they couldn't change the genre films without having to change the ritual.
I think horror films are simply part of the warning signs given to the victims. Horror stories have always basically been cautionary tales, if they are told sitting around a campfire or in a theater, it is no consequence, the purpose is tha same.
That, or they fund their operation by releasing recordings of the sacrifices, and marketing them as schlock horror flicks. It's not like they can list their expenditures on a congressional budget report, after all...
My interpretation is that the universe that gets destroyed at the end isn't our universe, it's the Shared Universe every horror film takes place in, and, as we know, that universe doesn't have horror films, because otherwise you could ask that question about pretty much every horror movie ever.
There's a good reason why no character references any specific horror movies. Marty is Genre Savvy, but not in a way that comes from specific knowledge of horror movies. In fact, when he finds the cameras, he assumes he's on a reality show. And while it's not of the question to see a horror-themed reality show in our own universe, at no point does he or anyone else realize how similar their situation is to the plot of a horror movie.
Alternately, it could contribute to the victims having to chose to ignore the warnings.
It could be a stipulation from the Ancient Ones. They like the irony that the victims are to blame for their deaths: similarly they want each culture to be at blame for creating their version of the ritual. If horror movies were banned, horror tropes would fade from peoples memories and the sacrifice would become boring. Therefore horror movies a required to be made.
How did the Japan scenario fulfill the requirements with a room full of nine-year olds? The Scholar, the Athlete, and the Virgin, sure - but the Fool and the Whore?
The director says that the ritual varies across cultures. They didn't need to fulfill the same archetypes for theirs to go properly.
Which, conveniently, means that this film not only explains away hundreds of formulaic American schlock horror-film plots, but also equally-trite plots used in countries that favor a different formula!
The Director says that, while the Ritual is different in every culture, in each one someone always has to die horribly and they have to be young. I'm not terribly familiar with World Mythology, but is the grisly murder of a person aged child to young adult really a staple of every culture's fables?
Almost certainly. Those stories would be told to teach children morals - e.g. don't hitchhike, don't go too far away from home, don't eat the red berries et cetera... Urban legends and the like aren't exclusive to modern Western cultures.
And the shock-value of having someone young and fit, or very young and very innocent, die messily is a trope storytellers have employed to crank up a tale's tension since the dawn of language.
How did Marty survive getting stabbed in the back with a knife? They had medical readouts for each of the sacrifices, why didn't someone notice he's still around?
Possibly their clothes had been laced with sensors that monitored their vital signs. In Marty's case, being stabbed might have inadvertently disconnected the sensor, creating a false impression on the readouts that his heart had stopped.
It can't be their clothes, since we saw their vitals during the lake scene, where the characters weren't wearing most of their clothes. If it is in their clothes, it's definitely not in the guys' shirts, since they can take them off for a swim without flatlining the readout so an upper body stab would do nothing.
Also, the stab probably wasn't placed in a fatal area. As long as the knife doesn't hit anything vital (heart, lung, spine), and because we're running on horror movie logic, he would be able to shrug it off.
I think it was actually a trowel, based on Marty's later comments. So it's probably a little harder to do damage with a trowel than a knife. Maybe it never went past his ribs, or glanced off a shoulder blade.
As for the medical readouts, Marty messed with their wiring. That's why the tunnel hadn't been blown in time. So maybe he managed to cut off his own medical read-out.
Also, the order seems to be that the Fool dies second last. Given some WMG saying the monsters understand the order, maybe they knew not to kill him yet?
Except that the controllers accept Marty's "death" as normal. The only requirements voiced by the Director are that the Whore dies first and the Virgin is left for last.
Someone did notice Marty was still around: the ancient gods. When Hadley pulls the lever to start the blood flowing into the etching of The Fool, the entire building starts to shake. Hadley and Sitterson misinterpret the shaking as the gods enjoying the show ("Getting pretty excited downstairs") when in fact they were protesting Hadley's hastiness in assuming The Fool was dead.
It's surprisingly hard to stab somebody to death. Especially with a trowel. It must have hurt a lot but Marty proved to be stronger than a zombie. Most of the blood on him was probably the zombie's.
The one that gets me is the bear-trap-to-the-back thing. Even by horror movie logic, how is that not a fatal wound? Shouldn't that like shatter your ribs or something?
If I recall correctly, it wasn't a whole bear trap, it was only one half of the jaws.
Probably depends on what condition the bear trap is in. A hundred years is enough time for most machinery to stop working right.
Physics, mostly. Bear traps are effective by way of speed and sharp teeth. You spring the trap and it snaps shut on typically something limb-like. The teeth bite in deep and the shearing force sometimes breaks bone. But when it hits a broad surface, the travel distance on the jaws of the trap isn't very far so it doesn't get a chance to build up a lot of speed. The contact surface is the whole arc of teeth, so the force is distributed. The teeth themselves aren't going to go in very deep, but they are penetrating skin and muscle. The tension trying to force the jaws together will keep it from being pulled out easily. In theory, of course.
The Buckners were into Torture Porn, and the bear-trap was intended as a capture implement. Pa Buckner may have deliberately weakened its springs and dulled its teeth so it'd snag without killing, because you can't torture a corpse.
Posted this in Fridge Logic already, but...what the hell were the controllers thinking when they installed that big red button? I can't think of a single logical reason they would have such a thing. And if they did, it would have about four or five failsafes in place to make sure it wasn't pressed by accident, or by, say, a couple of people who managed to just find their way into the complex.
Those two explanations don't really work—the movie is about deconstructing movie cliches, not playing into them. The puppeteers are not only Genre Savvy, they essentially wrote the rules of the genre. They wouldn't follow an obviously dangerous trope just because—they know better than that.
If you watch the movie again, you'll notice that nobody ever actually brings up horror films. Even when Marty is Genre Savvy, it's a generic "We're being set up" instead of "This is exactly like every single horror movie." It's implied that the world of Cabin in the Woods is not only a separate universe from reality, but is actually a shared universe for all horror in the world. The Controllers aren't actually genre savvy or "writing the rules for horror". The Ancient Ones' demand for ritual sacrifice just happen to coincidentally match our own universe's demand for cliched horror films. So a Big Red Button that causes bad stuff to happen fits perfectly, as they're IN the horror movie universe and don't actually know it.
The novel adaption contains a line from mission control frantically demanding where the gas is while the monsters are running haywire. Presumably Dana missed several steps, and the actual function of the 'purge' was to clean out the facility and transport the horrors to a new location after they'd been drugged.
That makes some sense. But there should still be a fail safe in place in case the monsters haven't been gassed and the button gets hit anyway. The controllers sort of handled everything as badly as possible after Marty and Dana got into the facility.
The line about the gas is actually in the movie, but it's delivered in the midst of "The Carnage", so it's easy to miss.
I assumed that the function of the "purge" was to destroy a creature that was too troublesome for them. Presumably, under controlled circumstances, they would ready whatever is necessary for the destruction of a creature in the corridor, then someone in the control booth flips the switch for the elevator that will bring in the troublesome creature. The purge button releases it and the team destroys it. However, in this particular circumstance, Dana flipped all of the switches before hitting the purge button, and then they left the purge active, releasing everything.
I figured that button was usually used to bring down one or two monsters for maintainance. After all, some of them are more scary than obviously deadly. It was simply possible to bring them all at once. Many labs have these kinds of buttons - they do things that you would never, ever do, because if they didn't do that, they couldn't do the necessery things.
What would have happened if they activated multiple devices for summoning evil creatures? (ie blow the conch shell, and then read from the journal)
The very first one triggered wins. Immediately after Dana reads the Latin, the control room erupts with reactions, as that action determined the monster. Presumably, if she hadn't finished the Latin before Curt blew the conch shell, or before Holden opened the puzzle sphere, whichever of those happened first would have been selected instead.
The real question is, what would the controllers have done if, instead of playing with them, the group had taken one look at that stuff, cried "Hey, antiques! Bye-bye, student loans!", and started indiscriminately shoving things into their camper to sell on eBay?
The controllers do mention that the sacrifice needs to be set up in such a way as to allow the victims to back out, hence the creepy fuel station attendant. If they didn't play along in the basement then the ritual would fail there and then.
Mission Control might have decided to interpret the "make out with the wolf" scene as a punishable transgression, given that circumstances were dire. She invited it in, so cue the werewolves.
Plus, "steal this" is bound to be the activation for at least one of the objects. Stealing the cursed antique is a classic horror movie transgression to punish.
Considering the treatment the movie gives Jules almost putting on the necklace in comparison with the other artifacts, I'd say that if they stole stuff, that'd be what'd come out.
Even if they all stole stuff, they couldn't all leave the cellar at exactly the same time. It would probably be the item held by whoever got upstairs first. Say Jules has the necklace and she is the first up the stairs - The Bride is chosen.
Most of the creatures in the facility are supernatural, or supernatural enough to merit a spot in the collection. But the Dollface Strangers are human, no? How did they qualify for containment in the facility as opposed to, say, being labeled ordinary serial killers and thrown in jail?
One assumes that even the human-looking specimens are more "boogeyman in human form" than "actual human." Besides, we never see them without their masks — maybe they're not even human under there at all.
The clown looked human too, but he was apparently immune to bullets so there's clearly some kind of supernatural thing going on here.
Without their masks? What makes you assume that they masks can come off?
The clown is clearly a ref to Pennywise from It, though, so he's supernatural by, er, nature. The Strangers were just sadistic serial killers.
Creepy figures in masks were a staple of horror long before The Strangers. Perhaps the ones in the facility are similar to a more supernatural version, even if their appearance is a Shout-Out to that film.
If the facility's backers are as politically-powerful as is implied, they may well have recruited some of their less-magical creatures from jail. The Dollfaces, if they're human, are probably on record as having died in some maximum-security prison or an asylum for the criminally insane.
if the Dolls are just four human crazies, why aren't the rest of the monsters attacking them?
To add to this question why aren't the monsters attacking each other?
They probably decide they're better off picking a fight with weaker opponents.
As stated on the Fridge Logic page, the monsters were given to the facility by "downstairs". Killing humans is what they're all there for.
We already know that they're trained to kill the humans in a specific order. They're probably also trained not to fight each other, on account of the fact that it would be counterproductive for, say, the zombie redneck torture family to start tearing each other apart and leave the humans alone. So they're just doing what they're trained for: killing humans, leaving each other alone.
My guess is that the monsters are actually good friends. I mean most of them seem fairly sentient, they spend almost all of their time in glass boxes underground with nothing to do, you can only thrash at each other for so long before you get bored, calm down and start chatting to pass the time.
The monsters were clearly avoiding hurting each other, and there was even a level of collaboration among them (IE: The Dragonbat hitting a wall mid-flight by maneuvering to avoid the creepy girl stalking the soldier, the Hell Lord and his buddies about to feast on some poor guy, etc). Makes sense since for the monsters' perspective they are escaping from prison, and they probably had some sort of plan for whenever the opportunity arises.
My theory is that the "human" monsters like the Strangers were the Strangers from the afterlife. All the monsters are stated as being courtesy from the ancient gods, making them effectively monsters from Hell. This explains the lack of need to feed them (though they can eat for pleasure) and the lack of apparent bathroom facilities in the creatures' cells. So, the Strangers in this movie are the normal human serial killers. They died, went to Hell, and then got rented out to the organization by the gods.
So no one who designed this facility ever took a moment to think "Say....we have this giant invisible hyper tech force field that keeps all of our monsters trapped in the vicinity of our base, right? Even things that can tear through reinforced steel doors and phase through matter (e.g. ghosts). Hey, maybe while we're spending billions on this thing to keep the monsters from getting out we should apply a little of that tech around our offices and nerve centers to keep them from getting IN."
Best guess? The puppeteers are extremely Genre Savvy, but they're also really damn arrogant. Look at how they handle the whole scenario: they barely take their work seriously and only narrowly avert disaster with the uncollapsed tunnel because they weren't paying attention. It's likely that while they were constructing the facility, it never occurred to them to set up redundant defenses against the monsters because, come on, how canthatpossibly happen?
Some of the other switches Marty and Dana were flipping may have deactivated the facility's internal defense systems, and Marty's ripping out some of the wiring couldn't have helped.
After spending all that effort to keep the monsters in, there's no need to redundantly spend effort to keep them out.
Plus, just before the lights go out in the control room, Hadley mentions that one of the monsters chewed through the cables on the lower levels, resulting in the base's internal defenses failing.
The grid-field didn't just block things from crossing, it killed them on contact. If that's the only type of force-field which the operators know how to make, they wouldn't use it to confine their monsters, because they don't want to damage their collection.
If every year the kids select their demise, prompting an elevator to call their monster from its cell, how are they put back into their cell after the event finishes? If there are experts who put them back, where were they at the end? How do they harness the insubstantial or incredibly powerful ones, if all they seem to have as a defense against the monsters is More Dakka?
They may have crates of silver bullets. barrels of holy water, and knives inscribed with the Runes of Dissolution. But all that stuff hinges on knowing what specific hazard you're dealing with; when the hazard is "everything at once" they mostly wind up throwing holy water at mermen and shooting the Sugarplum Fairy with silver bullets only to find out that neither of them minds.
I got the sense that there was some sort of higher intelligence or mental conditioning guiding the monsters. Remember, for the ritual to work the Whore has to die first (but only after being "corrupted"), and the Virgin has to be the last to die. I doubt it's a coincidence that the Buckners attacked the main characters in exactly the right sequence, and since the control room guys weren't shown guiding the zombie family's actions, we can assume something else was controlling their behavior. My guess is that the monsters are conditioned to go on a killing spree once released from their cages (with some guidelines about what order certain people should be attacked in), but will automatically return to their cages once there's no one left to kill.
The whiteboard lists a department called "Zoology". My guess is that they take car of this sort of thing - presumably they have tech more dealing with specific monster types (otherwise how would they contain ghosts and such?) but were overwhelmed/surprised by the purge.
There is a different department called 'Wranglers' who would be in charge of herding the monsters back to their cell.
There is supposed to be "gas" controlling the monsters in the case they escape, but it doesn't happen. Perhaps because Marty messed with wiring. We know that he managed to (intentionally or not) cut the signal to Demolition for the tunnel collapse. Perhaps he also cut the signal to the gas. Or perhaps Chem fucked up yet again.
During the betting scene, mention is made that the clean-up on mermen is a nightmare, so evidently there are protocols in place. We just don't know what they are.
If the Main Charactershadn't chosen "Zombie Redneck Torture Family", would the room beneath the cabin still be full of 19th century torture equipment, or would the control room have somehow switched it with stuff relevant to the monster they were facing?
It would probably still be there, just inexplicable. Rather like the one way mirror, which doesn't make a lot of sense in a redneck zombie-based horror movie, but could have been used to good effect in something with vampires, say. If the sacrifices can make it connect to the horror attacking them, that's well and good, but if not it'll just be dismissed as "Man, some weirdos owned this cabin before," which is good enough for most horror audiences. I'm sure there's a bunch of weird hidden rooms and caves and caches around the area of the cabin waiting to be stumbled across.
The wolf head could have been meaningful in a werewolf scenario. Without it, it's just creepy. And yes, the mirror... the painting... the lake (MERMAN!)...
As said, a torture room is good for ambiance, regardless of the scenario. Also possible is, yes, a switch-out depending on the monster. Those monsters were kept in pre-built rooms capable of moving on any axis. It's possible there were pre-built "creepy rooms" tailor-made to work with each monster, and capable of being locked in underneath the bedroom with the trapdoor. If they had picked the deranged robot, it could have been a lab with security footage of said robot killing its creator/s. If they had picked the unicorn...,
For unicorns maybe it would become a hidden stable where the owner of the cabin was capturing unicorns and abusing them or killing them, and now they are hostile to humans.
Unicorns have always been hostile to humans. Virgins can approach with immunity, but anyone else would be killed. This is old-school unicorns.
So likely in the Unicorn scenario the virgin always survives.
Unlikely, given how little the controllers care for getting the roles right. The Ancient Ones may be satisfied with sparing a "virgin" who slept with her teacher, but an old-school Unicorn would not.
There was an elevator going to that room, which was probably intended for use by "stagehands" to customize the room at the last minute, in cases where that room is relevant to the scenario at all. For mermen, it would probably stay locked.
Or maybe it would just be flooded?
Going off what the editor two above me, there's also the painting of something being hunted/torn apart. The painting didn't have too much significance with the monster they chose, but if it had been a werewolf, or any of the other through-and-through creatures, then said painting would have been a lot more relevant.
Probably the painting had more to do with priming the This-Place-Creeps-Me-Out pump than Foreshadowing any particular monster. The one-way mirror was likewise a way to stir up feelings of lust (to get the Whore "corrupted") and/or suspicion within the group (to facilitate splitting the party).
The painting depicts a lamb being slaughtered -> Leading a lamb to slaughter. The sacrifices represent the lamb.
There's no reason to change it out. None of the stuff in there would have been all that out of place in the cabin to begin with. Without the context of the redneck zombie killers, the characters wouldn't have assumed "This is where they tortured people to death" and just concluded "This is where they butchered game animals for dinner."
There were a lot of references to the cabin being the Buckners': the family photo in the cellar, Patience's portrait in said cellar, Mordecai mentioning the cabin as the old Buckner place... Dana might have assumed the room was whatever, but it's clear that the writers intended the place to be the Buckner's cabin.
Right, but if she hadn't read the diary then the Buckners aren't significant. Whatever monster the friends did release, the controllers could have adapted them into the story as its first victims or the ones who summoned it. There's nothing inherently ominous or out of place about a rusty trowel, bear trap, hand saw, etc until you read that it's a torture porn family.
Regardless of what monster would have been chosen, the cabin would still have to have belonged to someone. The Buckners would then have been involved with the monsters in some other way.
Or the cabin might be given no connection whatsoever, and the monster's appearance would be foreshadowed by some unrelated event (e.g. if they picked the robot, the controllers might feed their radio a broadcast about a mysterious accident in a robotics facility near the woods).
The poster shows the cabin and its basements hovering in mid-air, layers twisting in relation to each other, like a giant Rubik's cube. Based on this, I'd say the rooms below can be changed out as the storyline dictates.
Perhaps it was originally the Buckners' cabin, but the organization repurposed it for generic horror since it already was the perfect location and only needed some minor tweaking.
Ignoring the ending, how would the concept of a "sequel" be handled? The film itself has been said to be a metaphor of horror films and their audiences so how would this business go around preparing a "sequel" should a previous survivor return to the area days, months or years later?
Easy answer, even with the ending. As the base collapses, a brick or something landed on Marty, killing him. This placates the Ancient, though it's still pretty grumpy. The organization is reformed in one year, with new monsters shipped in, and on a shoestring budget they had sure as hell better put on a great show for the Ancient since the last one went so poorly.
Possibly the Ancient Ones don't destroy everybody all at once, but rather, condemn all humans to play out the same sorts of rituals, one scenario after another after another. This continues non-stop until A) one of the sacrifices finds a way to go back in time and kill Marty before dawn, B) their bloodlust is so slaked by oceans of gore that they finally go back to sleep, or C) they run out of humans. Or, since it's a deconstruction, until one of the intended sacrifices calls them out on how lame it is to watch innocent people suffering for kicks.
Didn't Marty say something like "it's time to give someone else a fighting chance"? I thought that implied the humans were at least going to put up a good fight against the Ancient Ones.
No, he said "give someone else a chance," not a fighting chance, meaning that it was time for humanity itself to go away and for something else to take its place.
Dana said that as they were having their last smoke. It was a reference to Marty's earlier rambling in the RV that humans are too scared to let the world crumble like it should.
How do we know that the Ancient Ones will rise if not sated, and if they rise, they will "destroy" the world? Presumably, because it happened before. Since we are here, then, it's not like total world destruction. After all, SkyNet is never able to totally destroy all organic life. Not even humans. But they do manage to pretty much "destroy" the world.
For all we know, it'd happened before to a species that preceded humans, and we only inherited the Earth because our Precursors blew it with their rituals. We know very little about the Verse in which this film is set, aside from the existence of a fairly diverse assortment of monsters and some grumpy horror-addicted Ancient Ones.
How about a war against the Titans? Maybe we find out that they were unstoppable in 1850, but go down to sufficient quantities of modern anti-armor rounds. Then they're gone, but some of their power lingers, and we get an Urban Fantasy setting?
Perhaps a similar scenario, except with Action Movie tropes? Lots of cannon fodder dying, big explosions, so on so forth, with the idea that mankind is effectively making a deal with a different set of Audience SurrogateEldritch Horrors, which may be WORSE due to the differences in scope between formulaic Horror movies and formulaic Action movies. The ones representing the Horror audience are satisfied with 5 deaths... The ones representing the Action-Adventure audience wreck cities.
A sequel to this film would need to be a prequel. For a standard horror film set in The Cabin? That does not seem to have come up much, with their high clearance rate, although the surviving Virgins could be problematic. Evil Dead 2 style? You'll need someone to repeat the same mistake or set off a plausibly related monster. Alternately, it wouldn't need to make any sense; as long as the cast dies, The Ancient Ones are happy. Drug the survivor, drop him/her off, and add enough newcomers to make sure someone sets off the monsters. Drug her for a bit longer so that they can activate something in the basement before last year's Virgin wakes up, then is treated as a maniac for thinking a conch shell somehow summons monsters?
A prequel sounds fantastic - e.g what happened in 1998? How did the Chem department fuck up then?
How about an interqual about how one or more of the other controller teams managed to screw the pooch that year? What killed the kaiju in Argentina, or started the fire seen on another view screen from Europe?
It depends on what you mean by "ignore the ending". If the ritual works, then the "sequel" would be the next group of kids set-up as sacrifices- it could also involve the controllers having to deal with all the damage caused by this year's mistakes, while trying to keep the ritual going- which could be pretty fun. If you mean, however, that the ending isn't the end of the world, the only sequel would be the world trying to deal with the released monsters and Ancient Ones.
I'd actually like to see a sequel with the world trying to deal with the released monsters and the Ancient Ones, largely because I'm tired of the overdone concept of an apocalypse threshold, wherein once a certain event has happened or a certain entity has entered the world, humanity will roll over and die because 6 billion humans and enough firepower to burn the world a thousand times over just isn't enough to overcome an Eldritch Abomination or two, or the legions of hell can't possibly be stopped by anything that humanity is capable of (but can by a handful of people with sticks and martial arts), or etc.
I'd predict a Near Future scenario, with reference to some sort of nuclear terrorist atack (like how Babylon 5 refers to the San Diego wastelands) the turns out to be where the Ancient One was nuked. Perhaps with a survivor of the original project staff explaining what's going on, either as head of a new crew, or trying to warn the new victims.
Cabin in the Woods IN SPACE! Or Cabin in the Woods IN MEDIEVAL TIMES! It can be a satire on how the longer a franchise gets extended, the more ridiculous the premise gets. And you know what movies I'm referencing that got that treatment.
"This is the only formula we've found that works." How do they know that? Presumably, they've done a lot of trial and error before arriving at this specific scenario. But if a formula didn't work, the Ancient Ones would come back and wipe out humanity. Obviously that hasn't happened yet, so how did they know to try something else?
Possibly each nation's facility takes a turn trying some sort of variant on their culture's usual ritual, while the rest stick to what's tried-and-true. If the variant leads to a grumpy Ancient One who doesn't stop shaking the ground until one of the other nations' rites is completed properly, they know that version is ineffective.
Since they are wholly dedicated to satiating a group of beings known as "The Ancient Ones", they have been doing this for a long time. Since, you know, ancient times.
Or perhaps The Ancient Ones ™ told them.
Yeah, which feels like a poor excuse to justify the actions of Mission Control and all those people who worked there. Let's be blunt; these assholes are killing innocent people and warping their minds to fit inhuman archetypes. Even if the threat was really that bad, there is still a person's base humanity to consider the fact that most of them should have had some crisis of faith to show that these people are more than just a organization based on being a monster in a lab coat. In many ways, they should have been more villainous.
Most of the controllers have been there for years, they've had plenty of time to become desensitized to what they're doing and justify it as necessary to prevent a much worse fate. The one new guy did show that he had some problems with what was going on, but he was just a low-level employee who never directly caused anything to happen and even he wasn't going in unprepared - he had had the operation and its purpose explained to him beforehand, and had probably undergone a very careful screening process.
Considering how their complacency is a big part of why Marty wasn't killed and the ritual screwed up, it's actually quite believable that the controllers seem so jaded about it. If they'd cared more, they might have paid more attention and not made so many mistakes, meaning the scenario would have wrapped up normally and we'd have only had a routine movie about zombie rednecks attacking vacationers, never glimpsing what was happening behind the scenes.
It's mentioned that the American facility has only failed to complete its ritual once before, in 1998, due to a screw-up by the Chem Department. Was that date chosen at random, or was a movie released that year that Joss Whedon thought was exceptionally-lame, even for schlock horror?
The American remake of the Ring was released that year, so maybe a commentary about ripping off other cultures' horror?
No it wasn't. Verbinski's The Ring dates from 2002 (you're thinking of the original Ring by Hideo Nakata, which WAS released in 1998 in Japan.) However, there IS a plethora of American horror movies from 1998 which received widely varied criticism, so pinpointing one as the subject of the Take That is going to be difficult at best.
Ringu may very well have been the successful ritual for that year in-'Verse. Remember the Japanese had a flawless record up to this point.
Which could explain the 1998 reference. Everybody failed except for Japan, explaining the explosion of Japanese remakes that we started to see in the US (The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye, One Missed Call, etc). After the US's formula failed they started trying what worked for the other guys. And it could also be a joke about how coming so close to disaster in 1998 lead Japan to start clinging to the "scary ghost girl" trope to guarantee that they'd never fail again.
Scoping a list of 1998 horror films, the only one that sticks out is The Faculty. There isn't a single fatality within the main cast of students (save for the "Virgin" who is ultimately revealed as the monster). And to make matters worse the monster's undoing turns out to be the stoner's custom mix. Damn chem department indeed...
I don't get it; many, many people died in the movie, many more than the four/five that were supposed to, yet the Ancient Douches don't enjoy it and instead decide that the world ends? How dumb are they?
Sitterson says early on that the sacrifices have to enter the sacrificial space with the knowledge that others who have gone before them have died. The sacrifices must inadvertently (or purposely) volunteer to die horrible deaths. The employees who work in the facility went there to do their jobs and save the world, not be the sacrifices necessary to do so.
It's got nothing to do with the number of deaths. The Ancient Ones just want to see the story play out exactly the way that they want it, every single time. Dipping into the metaphor, think of how many people left the movie complaining that it was 'weird', who would have been perfectly happy if it'd been just another horror movie where cardboard cut-outs got killed in a precise order. All that blood and death meant nothing to them, because it's not the story they were expecting.
Those people who thought it was weird must be really blind or dense to miss the fact that the trailer revealed that the movie isn't going to be your average horror story. Hell, even the tagline is "you think you know the story". For the analogy of "audience = ancients horrors" to work, the producers and the director would need to use fake marketing to make the people think its just another cliche horror movie so when they see this movie, they would be just as pissed off as the abominations and THEN be hit with the realization that if they are just THAT angry for a movie then they are not better than cosmic horrors themselves.
The film isn't a metaphor for itself. It's a metaphor for the entire horror genre, and how so many cliched and formulaic films have been made perfectly to audience expectations.
When the Director appears, she explains that the sacrifices have to be young and are punished accordingly. Their "sins" are being sexy, strong, smart, funny, or pure. The dead in the control facility might simply not be young enough, nor did any of them trigger a monster's release by messing with an artifact as did the main cast.
The whole point behind a ritual is that it's... well, ritualistic. There needs to be a specific pattern to how everything pans out in order for the Ancient Ones to be satisfied. It's implied that it USED to be as simple as "throwing a girl into a volcano", but the gods demanded something different.
All of this assumes that Mission Control's word is gospel. It's not impossible that what the Japanese school girls did could work on the Ancient Ones on a different scale. After all...they were sealed in the first place...Why not something that ends them completely?
The "sealing away" seems to be a voluntary thing, given that they can break out if not satisfied by the rituals. The problem with fighting them is that if it fails they're pretty much guaranteed to retaliate. Maybe there could be a way to fight them with some kind of powerful magic or weaponry (the people who started the ritual didn't have tanks or nuclear missiles, the balance of power could well have shifted over the millennia), but doing so would risk total annihilation and would likely lead to heavy casualties even if they won; alternatively they have a tried and tested method which has kept the ancients at bay for thousands of years and requires relatively few deaths each year.
Considering who the Ancient Ones are a stand-in for (i.e., us, who decide whether a film is successful and continues into sequels, or bombs and ends right there) it's reasonable to assume that, within the context of the film, they are omnipotent.
According to the script, the Ancient Ones ruled the world before humans and, after fighting for a long time, decided to sleep. Each culture has it's own god to appease and as long as one is satisfied, they'll all remain asleep. So essentially, they decided to sleep, and it's up to us to keep them that way, because it's the only way to get rid of them.
Nobody in the facility checked Marty's vital signs to see if he was still alive? They all just assumed he was dead when he was dragged off camera? Wow.
Probably the teens' clothing had been wired to track their vital signs, and when Marty got stabbed, the trowel inadvertently wrecked his monitoring device. The readout went dead, which was misinterpreted as a sign his heart had stopped.
Marty had just discovered a fiber-optic camera in the lamp right before he was grabbed, so he started looking for other hidden gadgets, and found his vitals tracker. The controllers didn't monitor Marty's vital signs to mark the kill, they just saw the zombie take him behind a berm and then saw blood splashing from behind it. That's when the controller pulls the second handle. Marty had some time to disable his tracker before they would have even thought to check.
In the final scene, Marty says something like, "I don't think Curt even has a cousin". Is that supposed to be some kind of a joke? If not, doesn't it imply Curt knew the cabin wasn't what they thought it was? And if he knew, why didn't he say anything about it?
It's not a joke, it just closes a dangling thread in the plot: It implies that the controllers had picked out their group and were manipulating them long before they approached the cabin. At some point, they got to Curt, and (chemically or psychologically) made him believe that he had a cousin who was lending him his house. His friends were too eager to go (or likewise manipulated) to ask questions about this mysterious cousin until it was too late. Without that line, we would have left the theater wondering all sorts of things about Curt's cousin too.
Er, wouldn't brainwashing someone to believe he has a cousin be much more difficult than, say, faking an email or a phone call from a relative of Curt who actually existed. That's how I thought Curt got the information about the cabin, I never thought his cousin was actually involved in the whole sacrifice thing. If the line was added to the end for the reason you suggest, I'd say it creates more confusion than it solves.
YMMV, I guess. I see "forging an email or phone call from a real relative" as the far more difficult ruse to maintain.
Too difficult for an organization that can completely brainwash you with a puff of smoke?
Yes. One phone call to a real relative to say "Hey, thanks for the cabin!" followed by "What cabin?" and the whole thing's blown.
Not if the e-mail read, "Hey, cuz, I'm going on vacation in Barbados and will be incommunicado for two weeks. But so long as I'm not using it, there's this cabin you and your buds might want to check out..."
If the organization can set up five college students to get systematically slaughtered, and drastically influence their behavior with drugs and pheromones, it can certainly arrange for the cousin of one of the five to stay out of contact with him for a while. Heck, they could even kill the cousin outright, if they had to: they're blatantly indifferent to whether the Virgin lives or dies, so long as it's not too soon, so writing off a sixth life that's not part of the ritual wouldn't be much of an issue to them.
Could be it's an indication of how fed-up Marty is with being manipulated and deceived. After going though so many Shocking Swerve twists, he suspects that even the existence of Curt's cousin (who probably was real, just uninvolved with the sacrifice plot) may be a ruse. Marty doesn't guess right about everything ("I'm on a reality TV show!"), just more than the controllers had allowed for.
...no, he was completely correct about that one too. Marty is on a Reality TV Show. Just not one being made for humans; it's explicitly stated that the Ancient Ones are watching, and everything has to happen the right way in order to please them. It's a reality show about people being killed horribly, filmed for the entertainment of Eldritch Abominations.
That point is somewhat moot anyway since it was Dana that said the line about the cousin.
Curt could have simply lied about his cousin. Perhaps a Facility stooge offered the use of the cabin "but don't tell anyone I own it because I sometimes grow marijuana up there. Say it belongs to a cousin or something."
The conch shell was for mermaids, the puzzle sphere was for the Pinhead-Expy, and the book was for the Buckners. Presumably the music box was for the Sugarplum Fairy, but what critter would the necklace Jules was handling have summoned?
For some reason, I thought that it was associated with the ghost that Marty and Jules see almost immediately upon arrival at the facility.
I recall a ghostly figure wearing the dress that went with the locket. There was something called "The Bride" on the board, and that looked an awful lot like a wedding dress...
Along the same lines: Marty was staring at film strips. What would they have summoned? Maybe we should move this to WMG...
Presumably the activation method in that case would have been to find a projector somewhere in the cellar and take a look at the pictures. They summon whatever monster is in the pictures, maybe something like Bigfoot or a lake monster - something mysterious that lives in the woods but is rarely seen.
Sasquatch was on the board...
Well, according to Drew Goddard, (and the wiki) it was Kevin
How was Marty the Fool? He figured things out early, and considering that Virgin (Forgot her name) was pretty much screwed, he's pretty smart in the way he saved her. Is it something to appease the Moral Guardians- smoking pot is foolish?
They mean "the Fool" in the sense of, for instance, a jester, as opposed to "lacking in intelligence." That is, he is the comic relief, who makes people laugh either through his witty quips or outrageous antics. He also spends the first two acts of the movie high as a kite, making him even more prone to do or say something weird for the audience's amusement. But part of the point is that these are less characters and more people, and they all subvert their supposed role in the ritual. Once he's sobered up, Marty's actually quite intelligent and quick on the uptake.
It's also Fridge Brilliance. Marty turns out to be the Fool in the old 'Lord of Misrule' sense. He's someone who turns societal roles and rituals upside down. In this case, he destroys the ritual by surviving.
Don't forget: Marty didn't fall into his stereotype. Nobody fit their role in the beginning, and it's clearly established for each of them: Curt gives an intelligent recommendation to Dana, thus showing he's quite smart, Holden catches a football from a two story window and is said to have good hands, and thus is not a complete intellectual, Dana is introduced without pants on and recovering emotionally from an affair with her teacher, and thus is clearly not pure. Jules is shown to be smart and levelheaded, and frowns up Dana's affair with her teacher, and so is clearly not an air headed slut. Marty perhaps fits his role the best at first, because he's shown to be making the poor decision of driving whilst smoking a bong, but he's also shown to be quick-witted and clever. The agency made half-informed decisions of which role to assign: Curt and Jules are dating, and Curt's a big guy and Jules beautiful, so make them the Athlete and the Whore. Dana is single, so she'll be the virgin. That leaves Holden and Marty for the Scholar and the Fool, so obviously the pothead will be the Fool. Marty's drugs would have probably made him much less rational and fit his role much more, but they didn't work on him. And besides, he's not shown to be a paragon of insight. If anything, he's more a Captain Obvious because he's pointing out things that only an idiot (or someone manipulated through chemicals) wouldn't notice. Obviously the wind blowing the cellar door open makes no sense, which he points out. In a dark basement full of creepy antiques that somebody else owns? Probably not a good idea to mess with them. Everything else? He's high. He's paranoid, and for once it works out for him.
Same troper who asked this question here. So since their archetypes weren't perfect, doesn't that mean that the ritual wouldn't have been completed anyway? So in that vein, the whole "Shoot him or die" thing is pointless because she's going to die in 8 minutes anyway.
As the Director said, "[They] work with what [they] have." The people they chose as sacrifices didn't quite fit their predetermined archetypes, but the controllers manipulated events and the victims' minds to force them to fit. And apparently, ordinary people falling into old archetypes (in spite of themselves) is enough for the Ancient Ones' satisfaction.
In terms of the world is it like the SCP Foundation, only the SCPs are all monsters and the main containment procedure is keeping the Ancient Ones sated? Obviously the spirits and stuff are real since exorcism works on the spirits, but they also have Engineering which to me covers everything from the tech to actually creating the monsters.
Holy [Deleted], I think they just failed procedure 110-Montauk.
A handful of annual ritual sacrifices sounds pretty tame for 110-Montauk.
They probably made a few, like the robot, but the others were just there. One line from the controllers seems to suggest that the Ancient Ones may have provided the monsters themselves, though whether that means creating them or just rounding them up, who can tell?
Did it occur to anyone that the characters (and actors) are too young to have gotten the reference to the anti-drug PSA? It's from the 80s. Yet the characters are all college students, which puts them somewhere between about 18 and 22 — all born in the 90s or just before.
This. It's had a pretty strong second life on the internet. It was shown on the Nostalgia Critic, and its Youtube video has over a million views.
That PSA has taken on a life of its own due to how corny it is. Off the top of my head, it was a joke on Scrubs during the fifth season. There's no reason why they couldn't be coming by the reference second- to fifth-hand.
Aren't the Controllers a possible sacrifice? Evil scientists/misguided extremists doing things considered inhuman in the name of power/for the greater good and then getting their comeuppance or a poetic/ironic punishment or death is a staple of the horror genre in the West. Therefore, shouldn't the death of the Controllers have fulfilled the requirement of sacrifice through a story plot traditional to Western horror stories? Also, the Controllers would likely have known that people who do what they do often are hoisted by their own petards in stories, so they would know that others have gone before them.
That's honestly how I thought the story was gonna end... I was expecting there to be a final twist that revealed there was another group of higher-level Controllers who were manipulating the Controllers who got killed, and that these high-level Controllers were using the lower-level Controllers as unwitting pawns in the ritual to sate the Ancient Ones, just as the lower Controllers thought they were using the youngsters. In that scenario, the youngsters escaping the game and killing the lower-level Controllers would all have been part of the ritual as planned by the high-level Controllers. On a meta level, this would've been a nice way to point out how post-Sixth Sense horror films tend to have the sort of twist ending we saw here, and how the horror fans of today (whom the Ancient Ones represent) now expect the movies to have such twists. But this ultimate twist never happened, and for some reason Goddard's and Whedon's meta-criticism was pointed towards the conventions of 80s slasher movies, even though those conventions have become kinda obsolete in post-Shyamalan mainstream horror.
I have to say, I think most horror still runs more on '80's tropes than anything having to do with The Sixth Sense. In fact, most horror that has a twist can probably be traced to The Usual Suspects, for example. But, remember- this wasn't necessarily about people making good horror films- but, if you will, salable horror.
Mordecai says over the telephone that Marty almost ruined the invocation. How?
When Marty "sassed" Mordecai it could have kept them from fueling up, and they would have turned around and gone home.
Or, since Mordecai was specifically part of the 'free choice' part of the ritual, the sassing might have kept any of the co-eds from taking him seriously- thus negating their choice.
I figured it was because Marty is pegged as the Fool. If anybody's supposed to get angry at the guy insulting a nice girl, it should be the Athlete, but the Athlete stays pretty calm. Totally messing up the planned roles right off the bat, before they can even get into the scenario.
Clearly the wolf's head is what triggers the werewolf, but what is it that they have to do to it for that to count? I mean, clearly just touching it doesn't trigger it... Plus, the Controllers don't seem to be anticipating anything to get triggered then.
On that note, are ALL of the triggers/summoning mechanisms in the cellar? Potentially, things like breaking the mirror or whatever happens with the wolf could also be the summoning mechanism, but the Controllers' behavior seems to indicate otherwise.
Yeah, I don't think the Wolf's head really does anything. The controllers specifically mention that the victims have to go to the cellar and choose how are they going to die there.
It's always possible that if they didn't choose in the basement, a secondary level of choices could be activated, it just always has to start with the cellar.
This troper assumed that the wolf's head did nothing. It was just another creepy bit of interior decoration like the dismembering goat painting.
I think that there was something in that huge cellar that triggered the Werewolf. The wolf's head was meant to allude to that later.
Was I the only person who thought that if something was triggered in the basement (possibly some sort of thing with a pentagram on it) that the wolf's head would turn INTO the werewolf?
Something else was going on that we never got an explanation on. Why wasn't the tunnel blown? Once the celebration started, one of the controllers was joking with the maintenance guys, saying they almost gave him a heart attack. But they tried to tell him there was a power redirect "from upstairs", which freaks that controller out. And then the conversation is hijacked a call from upstairs saying there is a problem. There's three possibilities I can see:
1. Sabotage. Some Nietzsche Wannabe infiltrated the organization and caused a few key things to go wrong. This wouldn't cover the other facilities around the world, but its possible that a doomsday cult could because as big as the "horror studio" operation. This would undermine the entire message of the movie, I understand, but then why did that exchange happen at all? Wasn't that pertinent information? That would have brought the plot to another level of awesome, at least for me.
2. Message is everything. Keeping the core idea of the previous possibility, this could be a very subtle dig at all those movies for whom They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. Several people have complained that the focus should have been on someone other than the five friends (which misses the point of the movie, I know, but stick with me here), so the better story of the two warring organization took a back seat to the tried and tested "five idiot kids get killed by [INSERT MONSTER HERE]", which many are past getting sick of, but still keeps getting made every year, without fail.
3. See above (#2), but Executive Meddling instead. How many great horror movies have been destroyed in their creative process by the studio wanting to be "safe" with the aforementioned formulaic plot structure? The answer is we'll never know (which is what I fear is the answer to this question, in general).
We actually are given an answer on this. Marty's been screwing around in the maintenance tunnels sabotaging things and learning how to manipulate their system. The "from upstairs" line is a deliberate misdirect; it leads the audience to assume they're talking about a higher power in some way, when in actuality, they literally mean upstairs; up above their subterranean bunker, where Marty is.
The whole "upstairs/downstairs" thing seems to cause some confusion. Upstairs means the ritual taking place in the cabin. All of the "higher ups" are downstairs. The whole structure is inverted from what we would normally expect, so the weakest members of the organization (the sacrifices) are at the top, the controllers are below them, the Director below them and the strongest (The Ancient Ones) are at the bottom.
Why did the organization controlling the rituals need a whole stable of different monsters? Isn't that just needlessly complex and wasteful? Wouldn't it be more reliable to have the sacrifices release a one particular kind of monster every time? There's no need for a whole zoo if the zombies can do the job year and again.
Because if "choice" is a big part of the ritual, then it's likely the Ancient Ones demand variety in the execution of said ritual as well.
^ This. Remember that the sacrifice isn't just "kill some people, the Ancient Ones are pleased". The Ancient Ones actually have to be entertained by the whole sequence of events. If they just reused the same monster over and over again, well, there's only so many zombie movies you can watch before you get sick of zombies and want to see something different, and unlike the horror fans the Ancient Ones are an Expy of, if the Ancient Ones get bored, they don't complain on the internet, they destroy the world.
A more practical reason is that they need to be absolutely sure they attract the victims' attention. If they narrowed it down to say, the diary, and that particular group said "Diary of some dead redneck? BOOOOOOOOOORING!" and went back upstairs, the whole thing would fail. So they literally throw everything and the kitchen sink just to be sure someone triggers something. But of course, the probably correct reason is that only having one monster wouldn't allow for the hilarious office pool.
How did that one zombie get inside the van? It wasn't there when Dana, Curt and Holden drove off for the tunnel. It just comes out of nowhere.
When they all pile into the van and close the door, the camera pans down to a large bloody hand print on the bottom of the door before they drive off. I assumed that was to show something had crawled into the van and was hiding.
Ah. So why'd it wait until attacking the lot of them? If it was about getting them in the order the ritual demands, it could just have attacked Curt first. Instead, it appears to have waited until Curt was dead from the fall, before ganking Holden.
Well, it's scarier that way. But the more direct answer is that Curt was in the driver's seat and Holden was standing behind him. Perhaps it didn't think it could overpower all three of them or it didn't want to kill another by accident.
^ This is probably the best explanation. The creatures seem to understand that they have to kill the victims in a specific order. Starting a melee in the tight confines of the truck could easily result in either the zombie getting overpowered or, worse, accidentally killing the Virgin.
That makes sense. Thanks all.
In the command center they have (well, had) hundreds upon hundreds of plexiglass cubicles filled with examples of every type of monster known to man, from ancient folklore to modern horror. This raises a couple of questions:
Where did they get all of them?
Did "Downstairs" create them, or simply supply them from whatever source?
Are the monsters "alive" in the conventional sense, or simulacra designed to be neutralized only by specific things?
If the former, how are they sustained in the cubicles?
If the latter, are they supplied by human belief in such things, do they create human belief in such things, or are they simply pulled from the anal-equivalent orifice by the Ancient Ones for giggles?
OK, well at one point one of the controllers refers to them as "relics of the Old World" or similar and says they are courtesy of "you know who". From this I think we can assume that they are provided by the Ancient Ones but it doesn't follow that they were created by them. In fact "relics of the Old World" suggest they are leftovers from some previous time in history. This might mean the last time the Ancient Ones were awake but that's unlikely given the human shape of many of them. More likely is that there was a time in human history when magic and monsters were common and that time has past but there's things left over that are/causes these monsters. The Ancient Ones either corralled the creatures themselves or gave the controllers the ability to do so to act as the conduit of sacrifice. As to how the sustain themselves, either they don't actually need sustenance or, more likely, the controllers feed them, one by one, very carefully.
Possibly magic and monsters became less and less common in the wider world because the various organizations responsible for performing these sacrificial rituals developed the means to hold them captive, so rounded them up where they'd be readily available when needed.
Holden says he hasn't done Latin for a while, not since 10th grade. He's in college. So it's been a WHOLE FIVE YEARS MAX since he finished 10th grade. Oh yeah, long time.
He's about 20, 21. Five years is roughly a quarter of his life. So in context, long time.
Also, can YOU remember something difficult that you learned five years ago perfectly? I've had difficulty remembering something I learned even last year without some sort of guide or reference to help re-familiarize myself with it.
He does have a reference and way to re-familiarize himself; the Latin in the book. It's been a while, but just because you haven't done something in a few years doesn't mean you've forgotten it. He looks at the lines, sounds it out, and lets his old lessons come back to him. It probably helps that he was been chemically conditioned to be The Smart Guy of the group.
For that matter, the actual phrasing might've been custom-designed so he could puzzle it out. The controllers clearly researched all their intended sacrifices' lives, so they might have discovered that Holden had taken a Latin class, consulted the course's syllabus, and deliberately revised the diary to include words that his lessons had covered.
Holden himself is surprised by how easily he remembers his Latin; it's implied the controllers are fiddling with his mind just like the other characters to force him into The Smart Guy role.
They probably just whispered it in his ear same way they give the gang subliminal messages.
"Humans are more important than Humanity" that's the movie team's explanation for the clusterfuck that is the final few minutes?!? Two scared, pathetic little teens are worth more than all the other Seven Billion people in the world!?!? We are supposed to see that asshole pothead's actions as a triumph?!? There are men and women and children, with beautiful, fufilling lives, only possible because someone has the duty to keep the wolves out of the sheepfold, and Marty and Dana are right to let them all die?!? They're both gonna die anyway if the Eldritch Abomination gets out, so the two "humans", if they even deserve to be called that at the end, don't even win, they drag the world down with them out of spite. (My problem with the ending, in case I'm not being clear, is that Dana and Marty, as well as the directive team, act as though people are the problem, Dana even says "give someone else a chance". Who else, bitch? Once the Ancients finish slaughtering humanity, they'll just go and torture the next group of Sapients. The evil gods are what makes this necessary, not their victims, and they aren't gonna give anyone else "a chance". And I don't see how Word of God can justify their claim those two selfish, hateful monsters' prides are more valuable than all life on Earth. If they hadn't said that, I wouldn't even be making this outburst, I would just take the Downer Ending at face value, but they did say that, they said that Marty and Dana had a triumph in killing themselves and the rest of Humanity, and that they as individuals are worth more than the human race as a whole, and that statement makes me sick. A pair of self-righteous Nietzche Wannabes decide that the entire world should die if they have to, and were expected to accept that as a good, disgusting.
On a literal level, you're absolutely correct. On a symbolic level, their "world" represents the current state of the horror movie genre or whatever. So in that context, defying the gods, destroying the status quo, and starting something new makes a fair amount of sense. It's really more of a deconstruction/commentary and less of an attempt at world building.
On a less literal level, the Eldrich Horrors in this film are sort of supposed to represent us; the audience. It could be argued that your anger and refusal to accept the ending is exactly the same reaction as the one that causes the Elder Gods to wake and destroy the world. On this level it's quite possible that you're supposed to disagree with the ending.
It's not "if we have to die, everyone has to die". The rituals have been going on since "ancient times." When the Controllers are sure they have the sacrifice in the bag, they still don't bother telling Japan "back off, we got this, you don't have to kill that class full of small children," which implies that even if one ritual is successful, the rest still carry on, and we don't know how many there are - at least four or five, and most likely more all around the world. That is a hell of a lot of people every year, going back who knows how long, dying in incredibly horrible ways. It's entirely possible that more people have died to appease the Ancient Ones than would be saved by Dana and Marty dying. And they flat-out say the Virgin has to suffer, but she can live - after seeing at least four of her friends die horribly at the hands of a monster straight out of a nightmare, which would leave permanent scars on anyone. How is a person supposed to heal after that when no one would believe "Zombie rednecks came to life and tortured all my friends to death and I only barely survived"? Surviving Virgins probably got either jailed for murder or institutionalized for life, and the victims' families would mourn their lost children for the rest of their lives. The message is more "if humanity has to and is willing to perform this unbelievably horrific psychological, physical, and emotional torture on its own on a regular basis, maybe we don't deserve to survive." In this case, the needs of the many are considered not to outweigh the needs of the few.
And while we're about it, since when in blistering hell was this about Marty and Dana's "pride?" I think trauma, world-shattering revelations, mortal injuries and being encouraged to kill each other in order to survive had a lot more to do with the ending than "pride."
We never really get to see this "world" we're supposed to care about. Maybe in this univers it's more crapsack.
There's also the fact that, no "humans matter more than humanity" doesn't make the right to let the ancient ones rise. But it does make them right to not kill each other. Individuals are more able to change human behaviour than masses. Think about a gross generalization which you are comfortable making. Now imagine that you learn one of your close friends fits the group you generalized. Suddenly you're a lot less comfortable making that generalization, no?
During the film's commentary, the writers and director point out that their decision is the difference between Youth and Maturity. And that the two teenagers were making the decision from the point of youth, not having the maturity to understand the way adults makes decisions and the reasons they make them for, and say that saving humanity is correct. The movie, while seeming to glorify their decision to end the world, is also showing that this is a tragedy of their perspective, and their ending the world is the right choice, but also the wrong one, as they wanted to have both sides, the teens and the Organization's side be right.
Here's a touch of philosophy for you - If people can't be humane to each other, what's so great about humanity? Marty was horrified when he learnt that whole organisations of humans all over the world were working together to set up cruel and ritualistic sacrifice on a yearly basis of young people, to please sadistic Ancient Ones. There must be thousands of people involved per operation and worse, they're all completely numb to these savage slaughters.
I get the symbolism, but on a literal level it made me like Marty less because I always thought that he didn't really care as long as he gets to "stick it to the man".
I've always thought there is a much simpler explanation for the ending: Black Comedy.
This has likely been asked in a different way and I'm not picking up on it, but the premise of the film is that the Ancient Gods get snippy if there's any deviation from the Core Plot, just like horror audiences in real life are. In a (made up) word: bwah? Horror movies change and shakeup their respective cliches over time, because audiences get used to the cliches. Wouldn't the Ancient Gods get used to the cliches as well, and actively enjoy the surprise? The movie states that the System changes over time, so why is "Hold On The Stoner Isn't Dead Yet" cause so much of an issue? The payoff of surprise would be worth it for audiences, why not the Ancient Gods? I suppose you could argue that Ancient Gods are a bit 'slower' to get bored of (and thus want changes to the Core Plot) than human audiences are, but that line of thought would lead to the System relying on tropes that were popular before Athlete/Whore/Brains/Virgin slashers became popular.
Fridge Brilliance: The Ancient Ones, whatever else they might be, are half asleep when they watch the rituals, and the last thing humanity can afford is for them to wake up fully. The controllers want to show them a bedtime story that's amusing to their sick sensibilities, yet also routine enough not to get them aroused and thinking.
It seems like the various monsters are all trained to save the virgin for last, but then why was Matthew Buckner going all in on Dana at the lake even though Marty was still alive? Further, why did the werewolf go after Dana in the facility when she was actually on the cusp of fulfilling the ritual (as far as any observers were aware anyway) by offing Marty?
Firstly, I'm not sure if all the monsters are trained - or can be trained. For example, minutes after Dana was mauled by the werewolf, Patience Buckner deliberately ignores her in order to attack Marty and/or the Director; this suggests that some monsters are more aware of the ritual or more susceptible to training than others, as does Sitterson's remarks that the Buckners have "a 100% rating." Secondly, I presume Matthew went all out on Dana because, like the controllers, he assumed that Judah had successfully killed Marty and everything was on schedule- after all, the Buckner's don't appear to be guided by any kind of Hive Mind. Thirdly, it can be assumed that most of the monsters had completely slipped the leash by this stage and were just massacring people For the Evulz; after all, once Marty starts shooting at the werewolf, it doesn't attack him- it runs off, presumably in search of weaker prey.
Or maybe Patience refrained from attacking Dana because, unlike the werewolf or any of the other Carnage monsters, she hadn't been set free without instructions, but was still acting out the scenario intended by the controllers. The other monsters probably didn't even know that Dana was the Virgin for the current ritual and hence, needed to be left alone: she was just another human to them.
The monsters appear to be aware of their confinement, and angry with it - as prisoners, they do their job and kill the Sacrifices in the correct sequence. Once set free, however, they decided to focus on getting revenge on their captors. At least, that's my justification for how the Sacrifices survived in the facility while everyone else got massacred.
Back when they were alive, the Buckners were pain worshiping torture obsessed psychopaths, by choice or by indoctrination. Matthew was beating her, gouging her, throwing her around, breaking her... But he wasn't killing her.
Which perfectly fits with typical horror movie deaths: when a character needs to die, the villain/monster simply kills them within seconds. When the character needs to survive, the monster suddenly switches to throwing them around and performing a lot of non-lethal attacks, or something slow like gradual strangulation, even though they'd previously acted purely through pragmatism (or at least something definitely fatal) or even demonstrated superhuman strength. The Virgin's death isn't required and is "decided by fate", so Matthew Buckner beating the crap out of her instead of simply snapping her neck and tossing her into the lake is intentionally genre-appropriate.
Indeed, notice that the werewolf also went for less than lethal tactics. It mauled her shoulder instead of doing something instantly lethal, like tearing out her throat or something.
Several lines and scenes imply that there's a variability to the level at which a scenario "succeeds". It is clear that each culture has some absolute requirements, namely that the archetypes MUST die by sunrise and it MUST be in the right order. But what about things that seem more optional, like:
Boobs. Would the world have ended if Jules didn't take her top off before getting stabbed?
Not necessarily. There are horror movies where the Whore doesn't end up topless, at least not in full view of the camera. The important part is that she is "corrupted", meaning having sex.
Getting "made". Why were they so concerned about Marty finding the camera? The fact that Dana and Holden witnessed the invisible forcefield didn't seem to blow the ritual, so what does it really matter if they discover some outside force is manipulating things?
The forcefield is a last resort; there are clearly various practical means of stopping the victims from escaping, such as the collapsing tunnel. The forcefield also doesn't necessarily indicate manipulation, but finding that someone is filming you while it happens does. Dana pieced together the reality of things because Marty had previously been telling her that he was afraid that they were being controlled.
The lengths to which they must go to "work with what they have". How far is acceptable? Presumably getting a perfect archetypal match is a better "show", but what does "better" actually mean?
That's why they have the mind-altering gases and pheromones. All of them clearly fit into their archetypes (except Marty, which is a plot point, and even he slips into the Fool of his own accord) only when they're drugged into it.
The victims must "choose", but they're allowed to be manipulated in countless ways. How much manipulation is possible before it's not a "choice"?
The actual manipulation at that point is subtle, such as subliminal audio and gradually mind-altering gases. Presumably even ignoring everything in the cellar would still result in a transgression being made or found, such as Jules making out with the wolf head bringing in the werewolf.
They complain that Japan was a total loss with no deaths, which implies a partial loss might be possible. What benefit would that have?
I think you're interpreting dialogue too literally.
This story was a "partial" loss and it resulted in total failure. Maybe a bunch of partial successes would work, but since the Americans were the last ones standing, it had to go smoothly.
The general horror tone of the entire affair. Would it still work if you took away or mitigated the creepy painting? The wolf head? The nighttime? The run-down-ness of the cabin?
The story is intentionally meant to replicate what we know as a "typical horror movie." It doesn't seem like these movies exist in the film universe, as not even the most genre savvy character makes the connection. The creepiness is probably part of the American ritual, just like the Japanese ritual fits modern horror influenced by Japanese folklore.
So clearly there are a lot of elements besides simply the deaths that make it "what they want", but not all of them are necessary. Is there simply a certain threshold of unsatisfactory elements at which point the Ancients decide "not good enough, world ends", even if all the deaths occur? Maybe this is a cumulative process, so that if the controllers get too lazy over several years, it's game over, but they can make up for a lame story by putting on a pitch perfect production the next time? Either way, the existence of an all-or-nothing cutoff for minor conditions that are not discrete seems really arbitrary!
The whole point is that it IS arbitrary. The Ancient Ones are an Audience Surrogate, representing the general public that demands cliche, formulaic blockbusters over something artistic or unique. Small things can be changed, but there are certain specific expectations that must be met in order to satisfy the audience. Someone who wants a formulaic Friday The 13th wouldn't be satisfied by a movie where the stoner teams up with the virgin and they both decide to commit suicide together before Jason can kill them. The Ancient Ones have made their demands, and too much deviation from the plot will anger them and cause them to rise up.
When The Fool and The Virgin meet with The Director in person, why doesn't The Director try to kill The Fool? If the ritual is SO IMPORTANT TO SAVING EVERYONE, and The Director is 100% committed to the ritual, I don't understand why she would need to convince The Virgin to kill The Fool. Is it "against the rules" somehow? The Director had The Fool within point-blank range.
Perhaps the ritual won't work if she does it? Maybe it's the equivalent to a movie director killing a character off by simply writing them out with no onscreen death. Maybe she was worried that The Fool being killed by her would piss of the Ancient Ones even more. Having him killed by either a monster or The Virgin would have been much more entertaining for them. Note that none of the workers simply leave poison or fatal traps in the cabin for the teens to fall into. A monster has to kill them for the Ancient Ones to be appeased.
The Director does try to kill him. Did you miss the whole scene where she fights with him on the ground and got axed in the head by Patience? As for why she doesn't shoot him, I guess she just doesn't carry a gun. Not like anybody else had a gun besides security.
So the warning from the gas station attendant was basically "that cabin is bad news"? Wouldn't that make the transgression merely be going to the cabin? To fit the Western horror archetype, shouldn't the warning have been "don't go into the cellar", or even "don't mess with anything in the cellar"?
Maybe it would've blown his cover. After all, why would he know what's in the cellar? He would've had to explain why he was in the cabin, and any explanation might've tipped the group off to run ("this creepy fuck used to live in the cabin? Let's not go there"). Where as warning them about the cabin just requires him to have been in the area and seen many groups go and never return.
Presumably these ritual sacrifices have been going on for thousands of years. So how'd they manage to pull them off thousands of years ago, with just primitive technology?
You know all those myths and legends, passed down through oral tradition, about some idiot getting himself killed (or worse) after incurring the wrath of the heavens?
But every year, they set a group of people up to enact a horror story archetypal to that region, manipulate the victims into following the story, set out monsters to kill them, then store the monsters to use again next year. How do they manipulate the victims and control the monsters without high-tech?
Shoved a virgin into a volcano?
Before modern tech, you didn't need a massive force-screen to isolate people, you just sent them on a wild goose chase to the nearest killer monster's lair. Tough luck getting away on foot.
Who knows how long this tech has been available? Clearly their tech is more advanced than what the outside world has as they have access to chemicals to alter the mind in very specific ways, an invisible forcefield powerful enough to disintegrate a bird, a complex elevator system, and glass cells capable of holding a ghost in place.
If several of these rituals take place around the world every year and have had more than one failure in the past, how are these stories of monsters kept a secret? The cabin in the woods is secluded enough, but what about the giant horned ape corpse from Buenos Aires? What about the classroom full of 9-year olds? What about any failures in the past with survivors who have witnessed these events, and may even possess some form of proof that something supernatural attacked them and does exist?
Exactly. Notice how on the monitors the surroundings are on fire and everything in the immediate vicinity is destroyed? The organization probably blows everything up after it's clear they will lose.
How did Patience get back up the elevator? Marty had to really mess around with the controls to get them back up, she didn't look all that clever.
Despite their lack of fine motor skills and undead status, the Buckners actually do seem pretty intelligent. They're obviously not mindless zombies as they have the ability to wield weapons. They also have enough intelligence to retain their sadism, such as restraining Curt instead of killing him so he can watch Jules die, and then releasing him so he can scare the others. The first part is due to the ritual, as Jules had to die first, but there was no reason to set him free afterwards instead of killing him other than for their amusement. So maybe she did have intelligence to hop on the elevator.
The elevator could've automatically returned to the cabin after Marty got off, since the Buckners were still technically in play. With everybody apparently dead, Patience would've returned to the grave, and got in her cell. Hers was brought down like all the others during the Purge (why hers took so long is a mystery; maybe there's just an odd number of cells, that's divisible by number of elevator doors with a remainder of one.
Why did ALL of the countries suddenly fail this year? America I get, because Marty. But the rest? Conidicentally? Was it to raise the tension, up the ante, or was something more sinister behind it?
Maybe the other countries just suck? It has been said that this wasn't the first time it's been down to America and Japan. America and Japan were the only two countries stated to have good records, with America only having one previous failure and Japan having a perfect record up until the movie.
In a meta-context, it seems to be a jab at how America and Japan appear to be the main exporters of horror movies.
Why didn't they just drop a nuke on the Ancient Ones?
Why would the organization have access to a nuclear bomb? And the Ancient Ones effectively being like a god, it's debatable if physical means like a bomb, even an extraordinarily powerful bomb, would even work.
Who said it had to be the organization? Presumably the military knows about this and by extension the government. Seems like something the Joint Chiefs needed to run by the President at some point.
Was the Japanese segment a parody of a specific thing? I don't know that many J-Horrors that have happy endings but then again, I'm not very familiar with any J-Horror the Japanese recognized as trite and overdone. Same question with the Argentinian Noodle Incident. I want to see Argentinians take on a King Kong clone!
It turned the Japanese horror flick ending on its head. Instead of nobody surviving, everybody did. Instead of corrupting and massacring a class of helpless Japanese school girls, the vengeful spirit is exorcised using the power of love and reborn as happy animal. It was the exact OPPOSITE of what the Ancient Ones wanted in a Japanese sacrifice, and the exact opposite of what we see in those types of horror flicks. A parody of J-horror in general, and I think its funny because there is a "magical girl" type element to the ending as well, making it nauseatingly cute. A total failure!
The girl in the ballerina dress with multiple rows of teeth in place of a face is the sugarplum fairy, right? Why is it called that?
Her name is a reference to the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies from Tscaichovsky's Nutcracker Suite, which dance is one of the most commonly tsught to and performed by pre-teen girls, such as the Fairy appears to be.
Just how old Fornicus is supposed to be? Those saw blades look pretty modern.
Why did Curt and Holden had to basically be remade into a heavier version of one another when they had the drugs to change their behavior according to the Stereotypes? It's a waste of work and makes no sense.
In the movie it's revealed they haven't complete control over the sacrifices, so what would've happened if, say, it was Dana who rode the motorcycle, or the zombie mistakenly killed Dana in the van? I mean, we see the Gods waiting until the end to release their rage, so it seems pretty unlikely that they would've ended the world then and there...