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Film / The Cabin in the Woods

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Ah, yes. The Rubik's House.

"On another level, it's a serious critique of what we love and what we don't about horror movies. I love being scared. I love that mixture of thrill, of horror, that objectification/identification thing of wanting definitely for the people to be alright but at the same time hoping they'll go somewhere dark and face something awful. The things that I don't like are kids acting like idiots, the devolution of the horror movie into Torture Porn and into a long series of sadistic comeuppances. Drew and I both felt that the pendulum had swung a little too far in that direction."

Five friends go to an isolated cabin in the woods for a weekend vacation. What could possibly go wrong?

The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 Sci-Fi Horror film that sets itself apart from other horror films by virtue of its co-writersnote  and by deconstructing both the "cabin in the woods" setting and the horror genre. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. In 2013, Universal Studios Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights event featured a haunted attraction based on the film. A more permanent attraction based on the film is planned in South Korea, as part of the Jeju Shinhwa World resort's forthcoming Lionsgate Movie World theme park.

Feel free to watch the trailer, but know that it spoils the film a bit.

Speaking of spoilers, discussing tropes found within this work will spoil damn near the entire film. To put this in perspective, the DVD box blurb only describes the plot to the extent of "bad things happening" when the five college kids go to the cabin, and nothing else.

Seriously. Watch the movie first, then come back. This cannot be repeated enough.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Amy Acker gets attacked by tentacles.
  • Affectionate Parody: Manages to be a parody of horror movies while also being the mother of all horror movies.
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • When Jules and Curt go off to fool around in the forest, the control room is packed to capacity with male staffers, all of whom are eager to see some action. They only leave (with plenty of awwws of disappointment) when Hadley shoos them out of the room.
    • When Lin has to increase the drug dosage:
      Lin: Do we pipe it in, or do you want to do it orally?
      Sitterson: Say that again, only slower.
      Lin: You're a pig.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Dana at the very end. Of course, the world ends before she actually has time to expire.
    Marty: How are you?
    Dana: Going away...
  • Almost Kiss: Well, Holden and Dana do kiss, but as they're going in for a second go Marty walks past and notes his "husband bulge".
  • Ambiguous Ending: The ending sees mankind plunged into war with the Hellgods, which they may not win, but Joss Whedon once stated that he liked the world and characters he created, so he would "never say never" for a sequel.
  • America Saves the Day: A decidedly grim version. All of the other scenarios fail (Meaning that the teenagers survived and the ritual failed), even in Japan - earlier stated to have a 100% success rate. It's down to the success of the American scenario to save the day! ... And ultimately subverted when Marty and Dana survive to the end.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Implied in the Title Sequence — this has been going on for a long time.
  • Anyone Can Die: ... and everyone does. No, literally, EVERYONE. The whole ritual entails killing off the stereotyped characters one-by-one, invoking the trope as a plot point, but members of the organization are also wiped out once Dana and Marty release the monsters. The EVERYONE comes when Dana and Marty refuse to go through with the ritual, awakening the Ancient Ones and thus ending the Earth.
  • Apocalypse How: Presumed Class X with the Ancient Ones destroying the planet after the ritual has failed.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Patience's diary explains the torture she had dealt to others and experienced living with her Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • Artifact of Doom: The cabin basement contains a huge amount of these by design—each item will trigger how the ritual's scenario will play out. It's Patience's diary that Dana picks up.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The staffers might be working to prevent the end of the world, but they're also taking their job of killing innocent people with at least a little enjoyment, even taking bets about how it will play out. They all end up killed by the end.
    • Being the Jerk Jock means Curt fills this role as well, but he was much nicer before coming to the cabin and being exposed to its mind-dumbing chemicals and such. He also dies risking his life to save Holden and Dana, so he really only becomes this trope for a few minutes.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: The Monster Mash at the climax involves multiple horror creatures slaughtering the Facility's staff; among the monsters are a "Molesting Tree", a giant snake, a killer robot, a Bulletproof Clown, some twins, a floating poltergeist face, the "Sugar Plum Fairy", some Deadly Doctors and a Dragonbat.
  • Audience Surrogate: Truman, the new recruit on the team of the controllers who has to have most of the concepts explained to him.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Matthew Buckner's Bear Trap-and-chain. It's plenty menacing and a decent snare, but it repeatedly fails to cause major injury to its victims, to the frustration of all killing and torture goals.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Dana presses the button "System Purge", and the guys intent on killing them are slaughtered by various monsters.
  • Banishing Ritual: The college students encounter numerous Summoning Artifacts for the various monsters that could have descended on the cabin, but only one actual Sealing Ritual is shown in the film when the monitors observe a group of Japanese schoolgirls using a chant to contain the spirit of a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl inside a frog. The observers are livid when they see this, since a human sacrifice is necessary to stop the world from ending.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow:
    • One of the zombies busts with his fist through the wooden wall of the cabin.
    • Later on, a giant Vampire Bat smashes an agency employee into and through a wall, giving Marty and Dana an escape route.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Hadley wishes to see a Merman. During the climax, he finally gets to see one... and then it kills him. He curses his ironic luck before he dies.
  • Beehive Barrier: It surrounds the site. And it doesn't just deflect contact, it electrocutes whatever touches it.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: One of the controllers does it during the carnage. Maybe. She might be under the control of something.
  • Big Bad: The Director is initially presented as this, then turns out to be Necessarily Evil. True, she is the head of an organization who creates worldwide scenarios to kill innocent people and fulfil a ritual. However, that ritual is to prevent the destruction of the entire planet.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Marty when he saves Dana from being killed by Matthew Buckner.
  • The Big Guy: Curt is forced into this role by the controllers. In reality he's a sociology major and not much of a Jerk Jock.
  • Big Red Button: One of these releases all of the monsters kept in containment.
  • Black Comedy: Boy howdy. A huge amount of the humor is based on the characters making jokes about the increasingly escalating horrific situations in surprisingly casual ways, especially the Faculty members. Not even the end of the world can stop Marty from making a wisecrack about the giant evil gods that are about to destroy the world at the end.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Holden the only person of color in the group subverts this by being the last of Dana's friends to die...until Marty shows up alive.
  • Bloody Hilarious: One of the most popular scenes in the movie involves Marty and Dana pushing a big red button that leads to monsters coming out (complete with a ding! sound!) to slaughter armed guards in a super violent, yet absurd fashion.
  • Break the Cutie: Dana. As to be expected. It's even said that she has to suffer.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Possible when an employee places a bet early on. "I don't think we have one of those." "Zoology says we do." Later on, a unicorn appears.
    • Hadley wishes to see a Merman in action. He gets his wish but ends up paying for it with his life.
    Hadley: Oh, come on...
    • Also, each and every single monster on the board (except Kevin and "Sexy Witches") is released and seen during the final act. Yes, including the Angry Molesting Tree.
    • The intern splits the pot with Maintenance.
    • "You know... I don't even think Curt has a cousin".
    • Patience lives up to her name in the end, where she finally goes up on The Director.
  • Buffy Speak:
    • Marty refers to Jules's weird behaviour as acting like "a celebutard".
    • In the credits, even. "Japanese Floaty Girl."
  • The Cassandra:
    • Nobody pays attention to Marty's warnings, because he's always smoking pot. It's actually his pot — coupled with the Chem Department's failure to treat his current stash with intelligence-reducing drugs — that negates the effect of the chemicals the Nebulous Evil Organization is pumping in to alter their behavior, so that he's the only one able to notice that things aren't as they should be.
      Marty: I've seen Curt drunk! Jules too!
      Dana: Well, maybe it's something else... (glances at the joint Marty's holding)
    • Also Mordecai and his unnoticed warnings - pay careful attention to his phone conversation with the Controllers. He is the Harbinger for them as well, but they laugh him off, even more oblivious to his dire warnings than the kids are!
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: They know beforehand that the cabin will have no cell phone reception. Some see that as a plus, as it will make it easier to relax without distractions.
  • Chance Activation: Exaggerated, with the objects in the cellar. As it happens, Dana reads aloud from the diary first...
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Patience Buckner, the zombie girl in the white dress with one arm, isn't seen after Curt pushes her out of Marty's way until the Carnage where she is shown exiting an elevator. She then kills the Director, and saves Marty's life.
  • Circle of Friendship: The Japanese schoolgirls use one of these to cause their version of the ritual to fail. Thus doing their part to doom the entire world.
  • Cliché Storm: invoked Intentionally invoked. The ritual pretty much has to be a Cliché Storm for it to work properly.
  • Closed Circle: The titular cabin. The controllers try very hard to keep it closed, especially when the tunnel back to civilization fails to conveniently blow up.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Sitterson's response to the Japan iteration failing. Made even more delightful in that it is targeted at a group of 9-year-olds.
  • Collapsing Lair: At the end when Marty and Dana share a last smoke, the facility's compound starts to crumble around them because the Ancient Ones are angered over every single worldwide ritual has failed and will now cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: The film begins as a run-off-the-mill horror/slasher story which is revealed as a setup to please the Old Gods slumbering below us. They're not cosmic though, they just "ruled the earth before man".
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Turns out to be one of these instead of your standard slasher flick. Possibly on a much grander scale since Marty doesn't see stars in the sky.
  • Creepy Ballet: The "Sugarplum Fairy" looks like a Dainty Little Ballet Dancer from behind...before she turns around and reveals a face comprised of nothing but a Lamprey Mouth.
  • Creepy Basement: Two of them in the same small cabin — the Schmuck Bait room and the Black Room. And that's not including what's under the Elaborate Underground Base.
  • Creepy Gas-Station Attendant: Mordecai. In this case he's not just set dressing, it's important that the sacrifices choose to continue to the Cabin of their own free will, despite the creepy old guy warning them that "gettin' back is your concern." He also provides the same service to the men running the secret program, and just like the college students, they ignore his warning and doom themselves.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Marty. They do a good job on the actor of concealing it beneath multiple layers of loose clothing, but there's a few scenes where it's apparent that Marty has a boxer's build.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: All of them. Special mention goes for Curt with his sudden death and a Negated Moment of Awesome.
  • The Cuckoo Lander Was Right: Marty was surprisingly on the money about a lot of things even before they started to go to hell. Apparently, his pot has made him mostly immune to the controller's attempts to control him.
  • Cultural Translation: In-Universe; the Kyoto scenario invokes J-Horror tropes rather than American Horror Tropes. It's stated by the Director that all other locations also use specific local iterations of said horror tropes.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: The controllers' job is to lead them to the cellar (and keep them contained in the staging site). But once the cellar is open, its various artifacts exposed to the group's curiosity, the controllers can't do anything. It's up to the (potential) victims themselves to actually pick one. Of course, they all find something that interests them personally, and it was just a matter of who would activate their artifact first.
  • Curious as a Monkey: The cellar is designed to play off the characters invoking the trope.
  • Dangerous Windows: A zombie pulls Marty through a window out of the cabin.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: That zombie in the camper.
  • The Day the Music Lied: In the run-up to Curt's jump over the canyon on the motorbike, triumphant music swells... and then he hits the force field.
  • Deadly Road Trip: Like many other tropes, deconstructed. The evil agency practically manufactures these.
  • Dead Man Honking: When the zombie hiding in the back of the camper stabs Holden, Holden falls forward on to the horn, which beeps as the camper drives off the road into the lake.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marty, presumably for being stoned for most of the movie. Sitterson and Hadley also have their moments.
  • Death by Irony:
    • Hadley, the control room honcho who gripes a few times about never getting to see mermen kill the co-eds is himself killed by a merman. He even says, "Oh, come on!" when he realizes it.
    • The workers in the organization that manipulates the sacrifices and controls the monsters all die horrible deaths when they finally lose control of the monsters. It's ironic in that they manipulated the sacrifice that was the Virgin ("purest") to the point she no longer cared about their lives.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Dana refuses to leave without Jules. Matthew Buckner obligingly tosses her head into Dana's arms.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Parodies the slasher genre and deconstructs a lot of the tropes — Final Girl, Sex Signals Death, The Scourge of God, etc. It also deconstructs the production of said films in a way, too.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of horror films, from manipulation and parodying character stereotypes, to how horror films are produced and crafted, especially in narrative or development.
  • Decoy Protagonist: While Dana's status as the Final Girl is enforced by the movie itself, she spends most of the movie either completely oblivious to the events going on around her or having a mental breakdown, while it's Marty who throws the film Off the Rails, succeeds in (sort of) foiling the evil organization, and generally plays a more traditional hero.
  • The Determinator: Curt. He goes from sensible, level-headed guy to headstrong savior to grease spot at the bottom of the canyon.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Played with in that it exists primarily to show how the controllers change them to fit their assigned roles, even when others in the group would naturally fit those roles.
  • Devil, but No God:
    • The Ancient Ones are seemingly the only divine beings of any consequence and they will go on an apocalyptic rampage the moment they fail to receive their full annual tribute.
    • There are references to "upstairs", specifically that the demolition team was stymied by a problem from "upstairs". Given what "downstairs" referred to, it's possible that "upstairs" is God, who has intervened in the ritual in order to bring about the end of the world.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The "transgressions" which supposedly justify the Targeted Human Sacrifice dying in painful and terrifying ways. One can't help thinking it's more the Ancient Ones envy those who are young, beautiful and carefree.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain, watches calmly from his cell as a hysterical Dana bangs her bloody hands on the glass.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Invoked with the Harbinger.
  • Downer Ending: Marty and Dana survive The Facility's advances on them, but by doing so, they cause America's ritual to fail. As a result, because every single worldwide ritual flopped (especially since the States' ritual was the last one standing when Marty and Dana are hunted down), the enraged Ancient Ones finally go on the warpath, causing The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Driven to Suicide: During the "Code Black," we briefly see one of the controllers shooting herself in the head when she realizes the monsters are coming for her.
  • Dumb Blonde: Yet another Invoked Trope. Jules is neither naturally blonde nor dumb (she's pre-med), but her hair dye has been treated with a slow-acting toxin that retards cognitive ability.
  • Dwindling Party: They started out as a group of five.
  • Dye Hard: In-universe. Jules has just dyed her hair blonde at the start of the movie. Ironically she's played by the naturally blonde Anna Hutchinson. The hair dye contains chemicals allowing the Facility Controllers to influence Jules' behavior, making her more likely to follow their "suggestions."
  • Eating the Eye Candy: On finding a two-way mirror, Holden wrestles over whether to tell Dana, who is undressing on the other side of it. He decides to do the gentlemanly thing and they agree to switch rooms. The first thing she sees on the other side of the mirror is Holden taking off his shirt, which she clearly appreciates. When he starts unbuckling his pants though, she covers the mirror.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ancient Ones, a bunch of sadistic god-like beings who want the humans being sacrificed to die in fascinating, troperiffic ways to be appeased. Just like a horror-movie viewer. Fittingly, they're human-shaped.
  • Empathic Environment: Invoked when Hadley and Sitterson fine-tune the weather to encourage Curt and Jules to fool around.
  • "End Is Nigh" Ending: The film ends with the Ancient One's gigantic hand ripping its way out of the ground, as it emerges from below to destroy humanity... an event we don't get to see.
  • Enforced Trope: This is most of the plot, from forcing little teens into horror film stereotypes to manipulating the environment around those kids.
  • Ensembles: While the five sacrifices are not ethnic or team-like enough for other tropes, they are made to fit five archetypes: The Virgin, The Fool, The Athlete, The Whore and The Scholar.
  • Epic Fail: We know early on/from the trailers that there's an invisible grid blocking off the cabin area. Curt does not. Curt jumps his dirtbike right into it, it stops him mid-jump and he falls down to the bottom of the canyon.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The four characters establish pretty quickly that they are not the usual stereotypes they are supposed to be:
    • Dana (The Virgin): The first time we see her she is dancing in front of her open windows with no pants on, without a care in the world, and Jules points out she is just out of an affair with her Professor, hardly the usual demure prudish behaviour that characterises "Virgin".
    • Jules (The Whore): She is Pre-med and in a stable, and clearly loving, relationship with Curt, also when she mentions Holden, she clarifies she isn't pushing Holden and Dana to get together, but see where it goes.
    • Curt (The Athlete): While a member of his schools football team, his aim is apparently terrible judging by his throw, and he is on a full Academic scholarship rather than a sports one, he also picks out a book, judging from the others Dana was packing it seems to be a soviet psychology/history book, which is pretty heavy stuff.
    • Holden (The Scholar): By no means Book Dumb, but is mentioned by Curt to be the "best hands on the team", proven by catching a thrown ball that was accidentally thrown out a second story window, that he had no way of knowing was coming, he also doesn't seem desperate to get into Danas pants, which usual horror tropes indicate the geeky ones will try, evidenced by later on when he discovers a two way mirror and doesn't try to sneak a peek.
    • Marty (The Fool): He is shown to, while being quite a stoner, be very clever (the huge bong that collapses into a thermos mug), and has no romantic feelings towards either of the girls, clearly closer as friends than lust objects.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: No, not just everyone in the movie. EVE-RY-ONE.
  • Everybody Lives: The Japanese scenario has every single schoolgirl surviving the ghost girl's attack. At least until the failure of the US branch leads to the end of the world...
  • Evil Hand: The zombie arm in the elevator which trips Marty, and is last seen crawling onto the face of the unconscious guard.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family:
    • It's notable that the monsters somehow manage to share the bevy of fresh victims they're presented without so much as a hint of conflict between them, with some even shown to be working together.
    • So much so that a gigantic bat thing blatantly ignores a helpless person right in front of it because a Creepy Child has him in its sights.
    • And a zombie actually drags a victim to the edge of a catwalk and tosses him over into the waiting maws of a giant cobra.
    • To a more literal extent, the Buckners.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Zig-zagged. There are sites all around the world to provide sacrifices, and every year at least one has to succeed. But if the Ancient Ones aren't placated properly just once, that's all she wrote. So good (in the form of Necessarily Evil) only has to win once each year, but they only have to lose completely once to doom the world.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Inverted. Dana and Marty, after seeing how far the Controllers are going to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, decide that Oblivion, in the form of the Ancient Ones rising and destroying the world, is preferable, if only to give a species less amoral than humanity their own shot at building civilization.
  • Expy:
  • Face Death with Dignity: Dana and Marty calmly smoke a joint together as the evil gods start to destroy the world.
  • Faceless Goons: The Facility's "Internal Security" are all human; they're just decked out with goggles, helmets and masks to hide their faces.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: The ballerina girl/"Sugarplum Fairy". Though it would be generous to call it a "face".
  • Fake-Out Opening: The opening scene is a deliberately misleading Work Com-like moment on the Facility.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Buckners, a family of redneck torturers. Who are now zombies.
  • Final Girl: Enforced. Dana (the virgin) is allowed to live as long as she is the last one standing. Even when she and Marty have broken into the controller base, the guards are ordered to kill the virgin last. She's not actually a virgin, but the villains "work with what they've got".
    • Lampshaded by Hadley, who admires how it's so effective.
      Hadley: It's so strange, I'm...rooting for this girl. She's got so much heart, when you think of all the pain...
    • Ultimately averted. Dana and Marty both live to the end - and she is the one closer to death, having just been mauled by a werewolf.
  • Finding the Bug: When Marty accidentally breaks a lamp, he discovers a camera wired into the wall. He comes to the conclusion he's on reality TV before thinking of what his parents will think of him.
  • The Fool: Marty is called this by many, but he surprisingly fits into the Tarot archetype beyond just being a hippie stoner; he manages to succeed where others fail, by pure luck but also by being sensible.
    • Interestingly, this is foreshadowed itself by his actor. Fran Kranz' most notable role to American audiences is a similar "dorky" character who is fragile and inept in a life or death situation, while Fran himself is 5'10" and over 200 lbs of muscle.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The whole house and the area in general has items that potentially foreshadow almost every monster that could be used, even though most of them never are. There's even a huge wolf's head on the wall... while there's a werewolf in storage. That said, when a monster is eventually selected, most of those items become Red Herrings.
    • Marty's comment about how society should crumble, but we're all too afraid to let it, foreshadows the end.
    • Lampshaded with Mordecai, "the harbinger," whose job it is to let the co-eds know that they're going into danger. In the process, he calls Jules a whore, referring to her part in the ritual and later mentions to the controllers how Marty came close to ruining the whole setup by "nearly derailing the invocation with his insolence".
      • There's a second level to this, as the controllers mention that the kids doomed themselves by ignoring the Harbinger's warnings, seconds after laughing at and ignoring him themselves. In the end, they find themselves equally doomed.
    • The opening credits have unmistakable illustrations of Human Sacrifice.
    • The creepy painting in the cabin shows five people in the woods, presumably the Buckners (note the missing left arm of one of the hunters in the painting), tearing a lamb to pieces as a mysterious figure in the background watches referencing the Ancient Ones watching as hunters savagely kill the sacrifice—lambs often being thought of as the go-to sacrifice.
    • The Ancient Ones make the facility tremble when the Fool "dies". The controllers think that they're just getting excited, but they're probably pissed off that the sacrifice is going wrong and the controllers haven't noticed.
    • One of the video screens from the array seen immediately after The Carnage shows an overhead view of something creeping steadily down a hallway on its belly. It's the Merman, on its way to Control where it'll kill Hadley.
    • Early in the film, two of the facility staff lay the blame for their last failure on the department responsible for the chemicals used to keep the sacrifices in their defined roles. This time around, the same department fails to properly account for how much they give to the designated "Fool", leaving him clear-headed enough to question the scenario and fight back.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Multiple, all overlapping. The myriad artifacts the cast finds in the basement, the board at the beginning showing the various and sundry ways the characters could choose the form of the destroyer, then the Monster Mash cameos during "The Carnage".
  • Friendship Moment: When creepy station attendant Mordecai snaps angrily at Jules, Marty steps in to snark right back at him.
    Mordecai: You sassin' me, boy?
    Marty: You were rude to my friend.
  • Funny Background Event: Of the horror or dark comedy variety.
    • During the celebration, we continually see Dana getting brutally savaged in the background, while the operators are practically oblivious to it.
    • When the monsters attack, one of the screens shows the intern frantically holding up signs to the camera, trying to deliver a message to the control room.
  • Genre Blindness: Invoked in-universe on the young people. The soldiers that got killed by the monsters just after Dana pushed the Big Red Button could also count.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: As Marty's about to announce Jules' dare to make out with the subject of his choice, Curt starts reciting "Please say Dana" over and over.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Marty and Dana reach it when they are cornered by the security team. They respond by releasing things almost as bad as the Trope Namer.
    • Also the entire reason for the plot. The staffers in the Cabin Facility and others internationally are willing to engineer the horrible deaths of random people once a year, regardless of age or background, because the alternative is giant evil gods destroying the world.
  • Gorn: And loads of it, most of it relegated to the second half of the movie.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Rather severely averted for the first wave of "The Carnage", then played surprisingly straight for wave two.
    • And cunningly used to obscure Marty's failure to die after being Ankle Dragged off by one of the Buckners.
    • Zigzagged. The men got the most brutal ways to die shown on screen while the women were mostly seen being menaced by the monsters.
  • The Great Serpent: One of the monsters released in the Purge scene in is a giant cobra that is seen eating a facility employee whole.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Big Bad only tries to kill the protagonists in order to placate The Ancient Ones, who will otherwise cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Guns Are Worthless: The security people in the complex have guns, but it doesn't do them much good. It does fend off the werewolf, but the bullets clearly aren't silver, so it seems more like the werewolf is just inconvenienced enough to look for an easier target instead. Also, the killer clown gets shot at point blank range a few times. It doesn't even slow him down.
  • Haunted House Historian: The Creepy Gas-Station Attendant is quite knowledgeable about the location and history of the cabin. Justified, since it's literally his job.
  • Hearing Voices: Marty hears them; implied to be a Compelling Voice, as despite his warnings people do what the voices say (reading the incantation, and going for a walk alone in the woods).
    Whispering Voice: I'm gonna go for a walk...
    Marty: What are you saying? What do you want? You think I'm a puppet, huh? You think I'm going to do a little puppet dance? I'm the boss of my own brain so give it up! I'm going to go for a walk.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Marty. Well, kind of. His body is a lot better than those shabby clothes suggest.
  • Hellevator: The elevator of horror, which brings the monsters into the upper world.
  • Helping Hands: The zombie arm, which is what remains from Marty's dismemberment of Judah.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Japanese girls, who go through the ritual at the same time as the main characters and manage to defeat their monster with zero fatalities.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The controllers are just doing what they feel is necessary, but some of them clearly enjoy murdering the victims a little too much...
  • Hillbilly Horrors: "They may be zombified pain-worshipping backwoods idiots ..." "But they're our zombified pain-worshipping backwoods idiots."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The controllers are set upon and killed by the various horrors they've sealed away to release on the subjects.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Exploited. Controllers tweak the moonlight in the woods so Jules and Curt will be more comfortable doing it outside.
  • Hollywood Healing: Holden recovers from his bear trap wound rather quickly. Not that it does him much good in the end.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Yet another deconstruction, because it's a Hope Spot for the villains.
    • Played with when Curt tries to jump the ravine on his motorcycle. The audience should already know exactly what will go wrong, but the characters have no clue. We're even treated to optimistic, uplifting music to drive the point home.
  • Horror Hates a Rulebreaker:
    • In order to ensure humanity's continued survival, every year The Organization must sacrifice a group of people to appease The Ancient Ones. By having five sacrifices act like horror stereotypes via drugging, disturb one of many artifacts which summon monsters from deep in The Organization's vaults and being hunted down. "The Virgin"'s death is entirely optional, but the other four must be killed off before sunrise the next day. Marty (their designated "Fool") ended up becoming immune to the drugs The Organization was using (thanks to his stash of marijuana) and survives with Dana.
    • There are other scenarios playing out in other countries around the world that are meant to follow the tropes specific to the horror stories of those cultures. Only one of these scenarios is needed to succeed, but these all went Off the Rails too, causing The Ancient Ones to wake up and start the end of the world.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The betting board for the betting pool has "witches" and "sexy witches." Apparently, there is a difference, though you never get to see the sexy version.
  • Human Sacrifice: Necessary to appease the Ancient Ones, though they don't just want deaths, but suffering as well.
  • Human Shield: An unintentional one when a mook can't shoot Marty as the Final Girl is in the way, and he can't risk killing her out of order.
  • Hunk: Curt and Holden are both conventionally attractive muscular athletes, one of which becomes part of a Fanservice sex scene and the other of which gets a Mr. Fanservice shirtless scene.
  • Hypno Trinket: Presumably, the necklace that Jules almost put on before being interrupted by Dana in the cellar. In fact, all the trinkets seem to have a hypnotic lure to the people interested in them.
  • Idiot Ball: Another Invoked Trope. The controllers are using stupidity-inducing drugs and hypnotic suggestions to guarantee the victims make poor decisions. At one point, Curt insists that everyone stick together, so the controllers pump gas into the cabin that quickly makes him decide it would be better if everyone split up.
  • Immune to Bullets: The killer clown, as evidenced by it appearing ticklish to gunshots as it closes in on its victim. Though several other monsters are shown to shrug off bullets, but without as much emphasis.
  • Impaled Palm: Jules introduction to the Buckners. And let the slaughter commence!
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The unicorn impales a scientist on its horn.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: We see a classroom of Japanese schoolgirls (all age nine) being terrorized by an angry spirit. Later, they are seen subduing the ghost with a ritual song. We are then told that there were zero fatalities. Later, the end implies that they're doomed anyway, as is the rest of humanity.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Matthew Buckner's weapon of choice is a bear trap attached to a length of chain. Subverted because the weapon is intended to be scary and painful, but if the victim fights off the initial shock, it does little real harm on its own.
  • Improvised Weapon: Marty's bong. It actually isn't particularly good as a club, but he later uses it to great effect by snagging the chain when Matthew Buckner is swinging his bear trap.
  • Industrialized Evil: The controllers have done this so long, they're completely desensitized to it and run a betting pool for fun. What's more, they've basically turned ritualistic murder into a factory assembly job.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When the scientists start cracking open beers, Lin says that while Hadley and Sitterson are celebrating, she is drinking.
  • Inventional Wisdom: Why does the facility from which the events are controlled have a Big Red Button that releases every single monster in holding into said facility? How baddies who kill using weaponized tropes could have been so Genre Blind to not expect that to end predictably is a true riddle for the ages.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Justified since the Ancient Gods the ritual is made to appease literally operate on Blue-and-Orange Morality, but each culture has its own rules on how to appease them, usually involving "punishing" some group of youths for no other reason than they dared indulge in petty frivolities such as drugs and sex, as if the Gods are some twisted Moral Guardians who see merely being young as a hubris worthy of death.
  • Ironic Echo: Three times: by Curt, Dana, and Sitterson.
    Curt: Let's get this party started!
  • Irony:
    • Of the dramatic variety. We are conditioned to think of the people as sacrifices because they are referred to as such. But in actuality, they are the heroes and heroines of their respective stories. The irony, then, is that the world is ended by ancient horrors because this time around humanity managed to score a win against the forces of darkness. Is anyone aware of another example where winning every battle costs you the war?
    • Dana is cast as the Final Girl and Jules as The Whore by the Controllers. At the beginning of the film, Dana has just gotten out of an affair with her professor while Jules is the Team Mom in a stable, loving relationship with her boyfriend. Dana likewise opens the film providing more overt Fanservice in her underwear, while Jules provides the tamer variety by just wearing short shorts. This proves ironic when the Controllers have to use pheromones to get Jules to show her breasts in the first place. Further irony if you go meta - Kristen Connolly (Dana) is a natural blonde portraying a redhead Final Girl, while Anna Hutchinson is a natural blonde portraying someone who has just dyed her hair.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At the beginning of the movie, one of the more jaded Controllers teases that it was the chemistry department's fault last time they failed. Though other people arguably fell down on their jobs too, the chem department's screw up in this movie is responsible for Marty being able to retain his wits and catch on to whats going on around him.
  • Jerk Jock: Subverted by Curt, who is pushed into this role via pheromone manipulation. Up to that point, he was shown to be a Lovable Jock and an intelligent sociology major on a full scholarship who never acted like an alpha male douchebag.
  • Jump Scare: One happens when the title appears. Lessened by the pop music that occurs afterwards.
  • Just Desserts: The fate of several Organization members during the rampage, most notably an employee tossed into the maw of the giant cobra and Hadley at the teeth of his merman.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Hadley finally gets to see what a merman looks like. Emphasis on finally.
    • The deaths of almost everyone in the control complex are generally more sadistic and far more on-screen graphic than what happens to the five at the cabin.
    • Sitterson dies by the hand of one of the people he was trying to kill.
    • A few of the cabin mates also die in accordance with their sacrificial roles: Jules the whore was attacked during sex, Curt the jock dies during a not-so-death-defying stunt, and if Marty had died when the audience expected him to, he would have been ambushed making jokes. Played with though in that they are being pushed into these roles.
      • It's actually one of the requirements of the ritual. The participants must on some level have done something to deserve their deaths, whether it's playing with things they're meant to leave alone or having a disagreeable lifestyle.
  • Kill All Humans: Once the monsters are released, they clearly don't want to fight each other, only kill normal humans, be the Facility workers or Marty and Dana.
  • Killed Offscreen: Subverted. The stoner Marty is wounded and dragged offscreen by one of the Buckners to be killed, and the Controllers assume he died a gruesome death. It turns out that they really should have made sure, because during that time he dispatched the zombie, found an entrance to the Organization's HQ, and went back to save Dana from Pa Buckner. No offscreen inertia here, folks.
  • Killer Game Master: Hadley and Sitterson have this trope as their profession.
  • Latin Is Magic: Reading some shoddy Latin in an old diary raises the dead.
    Mysterious Whisper: Read it...
    Marty: Okay! I'm drawing a line in the fucking sand here: do not read the Latin!
    Mysterious Whisper: Read the Latin... out loud...
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When Truman objects to manipulating Curt and Jules to have sex in the woods, just so the cameras can capture Jules' nudity, the controllers respond, "Gotta keep the customers satisfied."
    • When The Director mentions "Eight minutes to sunrise" when talking about the gods destroying the Earth, there are eight minutes left until the lights come up in the movie theater.
    • When the Doctors are seen about to operate on a worker, he screams, "Please don't cut," but the camera cuts away.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: When the zombies are attacking everyone in the cabin, Curt says they shouldn't split up under any circumstances. The controllers then release a stupidity-inducing gas into the room, causing him to turn around and say they should all split up as they can cover more ground that way, to which Holden and Dana immediately agree. Marty's response to all of this is a confused "Really?"
  • Lovable Jock: Curt and Holden. At first, anyway. The controllers use mind-altering chemicals to turn Curt into a Jerk Jock, and Holden into a nerd to fulfill their roles in the ritual.
  • Made of Iron: Dana. The motor home she was in crashes into a lake. Then she gets stabbed, clawed and otherwise beat up by Matthew Buckner, and mauled by a werewolf. She's still together enough to philosophize with Marty at the end.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: Invoked, considering that the Controllers are manipulating the students into following genre conventions. The two girls in the group are given the roles of and manipulated into becoming the virginal Final Girl and the "whore".
  • Misanthrope Supreme: The Old Gods themselves qualify, as they despise humanity to such a point that they demand yearly sacrifices merely to keep them from destroying the Earth. By the end of the film, Marty and Dana have become so disillusioned with the human race by witnessing what the Organization is forced to do to appease the gods that they decide to let the ritual fail if it means letting some hopefully better species become dominant.
  • Moment Killer: Marty's "husband bulge" remark puts the kibosh on Holden's and Dana's smooching.
  • Monster Mash:
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie is exceedingly fond of making hilarious jokes instants before gruesome events, and vice-versa. It's Joss Whedon, this trope is pretty much a given.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain.
  • Necessarily Evil: The Controllers and the Director are this, especially the latter (the former have grown desensitized over time). But as long as their program is successful, the Ancient Ones stay dormant, and the world is saved for a little bit longer.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Curt attempts to jump a canyon in a motorbike in order to get help, but only succeeds in smashing into the forcefield surrounding the cabin.
  • Nerd Glasses: Holden is wearing them only when he needs to be smart. See Smart People Know Latin below.
  • Nested Mouths / Lamprey Mouth: The Sugarplum Fairy's face is... well, one that only has a mouth with lots of teeth and a mouth inside that mouth.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The film is a Deconstructive Parody of horror films, and it was advertised as a straight horror film. Ironically, this is one of the few films where it could be argued that this is exactly the mindset the viewer should have before watching the film.
    • There's also a straight example: the trailer shows Marty rolling a joint in the RV over a clean table, but in the film proper the tabletop is covered by his stash of pot, rolling papers and finished blunts.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Assuming that Hadley and Sitterson can be called "heroes." Failing to check up on Marty after he was dragged off-camera resulted in the so-called "Fool" sabotaging the base, rescuing Dana and completely trashing the ritual- resulting in the extinction of the entire human race.
    • Them not realizing Marty is still alive is also quite odd since at one point a screen is shown displaying all five's vital signs.
    • More straightly played; the titular protagonists Dana and Marty, by "winning" against The Facility and their monsters just manage to doom the entire human race.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: A Zombie Redneck Torture Family is described as an "entirely different species" from the more traditional zombies.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Monitors show the results of failed operations around the world, including a house burning down in Berlin and a giant monster in downtown Buenos Aires. Not much context is provided.
    • The US branch has a nigh-spotless record marred only by whatever happened in 1998. We only know that the Chemical Department screwed up the sacrifice somehow. (In the real world, The Faculty was released that year, leading some fans to hypothesize that the line is a jab at it.)
  • No-Sell: Marty proves immune to the mind-altering chemicals being pumped into the cabin because of his fresh marijuana stash.
  • Not So Above It All: Lin tries to present herself as distanced from the "clowning" behavior of Sitterson and Hadley. But she falls to their level of accepting it soon enough.
  • Object-Tracking Shot: Near the start we follow an eagle as the "kids" head up the to titular cabin tracking it long enough to see it crash into the force-field surrounding the area.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: "I had to dismember that guy with a trowel."
    • Every failed attempt at causing the horror movie scenario in every other part of the world means that most victims who were supposed to die didn't, leading to multiple non-stated examples of this.
  • Off the Rails: Marty and Dana leave the boundaries of the intended kill-zone when they enter the underground facility.
  • Oh, Crap!: The SWAT team versus the monsters. Twice.
    • Sitterson and Hadley both have one in quick succession. The former when Demolition tells him about the power re-route from 'upstairs'. The latter when he's told that Marty is still alive.
  • One Last Smoke: Marty shares a joint with Dana as they wait for death.
  • Only a Flesh Wound:
    • Several characters are beaten and stabbed yet manage to run and dart around just fine afterwards.
    • Marty and Curtis are both stabbed in the back, yet show no effects from their injuries in later scenes.
  • Only Sane Man: Marty keeps asking questions about the situation, wondering what normal people are doing with all that creepy stuff in their basement.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Being a Fake American, Chris Hemsworth's Australian slips through in more than a few moments.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: One of the optional monsters is a Merman, and Hadley is desperate to see one. He gets killed by it in the final rampage.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: We see two varieties, the traditional shambling version that eat flesh and the "Zombie Redneck Torture Family" Buckners who use weapons, show enjoyment in causing pain and can plan ahead.
  • Paint the Town Red: The aftermath of "The Carnage". Oh man yes.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The entire premise, really. The controllers are not unlike a horror movie audience, watching and hoping (and ensuring) events play out strictly according to formula. And they do enjoy their jobs, throwing a big party with booze and snacks when they think that have it in the bag. And of course, the Ancient Ones are the real audience, who must be appeased by the sacrifice going exactly as planned, no deviations.
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted Trope. When it seems like Curt might be able to escape to get help from the outside world, he finds out the hard way about the electric walls the audience already knows about, while Dana and Holden watch his demise....
  • Phlebotinum-Induced Stupidity: The Organization put a chemical in Jules's blonde hair dye that makes her behave more stupid and slutty than she really is, as they force the various occupants of the cabin to fill their typical Slasher Movie roles. Jules is actually pretty intelligent, being pre-med.
  • The Place: The movie is named after the stock setting of the creepy cabin in the middle of the forest where spooky stuff happens.
  • Playing Against Type: In-universe. The characters are all forced into neat little brackets. Even worse, almost all of them are forced into the wrong brackets. Jules, "The Whore," is pre-med, and criticizes the "virginal" Dana for sleeping with her professor. Holden, "The Scholar," is more athletically-inclined, described as a Big Man On Campus, while Curt, "The Athlete," is an academically-minded Sociology major. Only Marty gets typecast correctly... and he still manages to be a Spanner in the Works.
  • Plot Armor: Discussed Trope. According to the ritual Dana, as the Virgin, is allowed a chance to live — as long as she's the last one left standing. As such, when Facility security guards are dispatched, they are ordered to make sure that Marty dies before her, which would fulfill the ritual.
  • Plot Parallel: while the film explicitly draws attention to the fact that the 5 victims don't naturally fit the archetypes they've been cast into, it is much more subtle about the fact that the 5 staff members of the facility naturally match perfectly:
    • Hadley: constant joking, is the Fool
    • Sitterson: knowledgeable of history, procedures, and even how to hot wires an explosion, is the Scholar
    • Truman: from security and armed to the teeth, is the Athlete
    • The Director: stays out of the control room and so has no blood on her hands (ie purity is intact) is The Virgin
    • Lin: while her lab coat and primness do not convey sexuality, she moral compromises in the face of Truman's disapproval - betting, drinking. And what word does the Director use to describe the Whore? "Compromised"
    • variation: It's possible that Truman is the Virgin, this being his first time around, and the Director is the Athlete, being the most powerful in terms of authority if not physicality. This interpretation would make the staff's deaths invert the sacrificial pattern, with Truman the Virgin dying first
  • The Power of Friendship: In the Japanese scenario, the children use this to defeat the monster.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Let's get this party started.", said by Dana promptly before hitting a Big Red Button to sic the facility's monsters on their security forces.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Every character responsible for operations (with exception to The Director) have shades of this. Bonus points for Truman, who makes a point of being aware of this. The fact that they're doing it to save the world each year explains why they're otherwise normal people. Only the Director seems to truly get a kick out of it; the others are said to be letting off steam.
  • Purple Prose: Mordecai's phone call. "Cleanse them. Cleanse the world of their ignorance and sin. Bathe them in the crimson of—am I on speakerphone?"
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Laughter is heard as the purge starts, presumably from the Monster Clown or Dismemberment Goblins.
  • Railroading: Hadley and Sitterson resort to this with pheromone mists and remote-control doors.
  • Ramp Jump: The motorbike jump starts with Curt going off a ramp to get to the other side. It doesn't end well.
  • Really Gets Around: Subverted with Jules, who gets pushed into the role of "the whore" by the villains with drugs and pheromones. Apparently dyeing your hair blonde makes you a whore nowadays. And what's more, the only person she has sex with in the film is her long term boyfriend.
  • Red Herring:
    • Invoked with the Summoning Artifacts as when one is activated, the others are rendered useless for the rest of the ritual.
    • Some of the other objects in the cabin, such as the wolf head and the two-way mirror, end up irrelevant.
  • The Reveal: Several, most of them relating to the biggest one: there's a massive worldwide yearly sacrifice of people in rituals to placate evil gods and our protagonists are in the thick of it!
  • Rise from Your Grave: The undead Buckner family when Dana inadvertently summons them, and the Ancient Ones at the end of the movie when a huge hand smashes through the eponymous cabin and comes down on the camera. Smash to Black.
  • Rule of Scary: Critiqued by the film.
    • The controllers' entire job is to enforce standard horror movie cliches, mostly the Idiot Ball. Electrifying the handles of weapons so the protagonists drop them, making everyone split up and be easier targets, ensuring they can't escape, and so on.
    • Hadley's disappointment at never getting to see a merman reads as a critique of the lack of new, different, unusual horror monsters, instead relying on variations of a few stock archetypes: slashers, vampires, zombies, and such. The facility has a very large stock of very creative and different monsters. . . who have apparently never been selected to take part in the sacrifice.
  • Running Gag: In the third act there's the elevators opening over and over and letting out more and more monsters, finally culminating in Patience stepping out of the elevator into a room with literally every square inch covered in blood and gore and disappointed that everyone's already dead.
  • Scary Scarecrows: "Scarecrows" are one of the available monsters.
  • Schmuck Bait: The cellar isn't just this, it's filled with artifacts that can summon a monster.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Played Straight, then exaggerated, then subverted. It's made clear early on that the facility has a stockpile of Nightmare Fuel. Eventually, it is revealed that their stockpile is a well organized collection of every type of horror movie monster one can think of, including a few one would never have expected (e.g. unicorns, mermen, treesnote ). But it's then revealed that even this encyclopedia of terror is just a part of a bigger can that holds back even bigger evils.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The entire controller's compound is reminiscent of The Initiative from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Which got wiped out when all the demons escaped from their cells.
  • Series Establishing Moment: For a while it plays out like a typical horror film except with a bunch weird scenes with two guys at some kind of workplace, then the two guys get a call from the Creepy Gas-Station Attendant and start Corpsing at his corny way of speaking until he drops the accent and tells them to take him off speakerphone.
  • Sex Signals Death: Invoked, lampshaded, discussed, and justified, not all in that order.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "Streets, paved with actual street!"
  • Shirtless Scene: Holden. Dana is impressed.
  • Shout-Out: As a parody/satire/deconstruction of the horror genre itself, the movie has loads of these. Also see Expy above.
  • Side Bet: The scientists bet on what horror the protagonists will select.
  • A Sinister Clue: A downplayed example, but Patience mentions in her diary that she's writing with her "off" hand because the other one was eaten. When we meet her, she still has her right hand, which means she was lefthanded. And, obviously, a monster.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: Matthew Buckner drags his bear-trap-thingy along the wooden dock as he goes to finish off Dana.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Sigourney Weaver as the head of the Organization.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Enforced as Jules dyes her hair blonde just before the trip. Ironically Anna Hutchison is a natural blonde, while Kristen Connolly dyed her hair red to play Dana.
  • Smart People Know Latin: Played very deliberately. There is literally nothing to establish Holden as the Smart Guy except that glasses suddenly appear on his face in the basement and and he suddenly remembers enough high school Latin to decipher the incantation. The only reason he's The Scholar is because the controllers decided he is.
  • Sound Track Dissonance: The big office party celebrates the ritual's success with cheerful REO Speedwagon music playing while Dana gets savaged by a zombie in the background.
  • Spanner in the Works: After being designated as The Fool, Marty became this.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Obviously Kevin. Also qualifies as Tom the Dark Lord.
  • Spoof Aesop: In the commentary, it is mentioned that "Pot saves lives."
  • Spooky Painting: The hunting scene portrayed in Holden's room is kinda.... visceral.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Marty steps out for a leak and is surprised he can't see any stars, even though they should be miles from any light pollution source, a possible hint the cabin is in an Eldritch Location. Given what happens at the end of the movie, the apocalyptic version of this trope also applies.
  • Status Quo Is God: Despite the facility's attempts to maintain it, it's ultimately subverted.
  • Stock Footage: Footage from Dante's Peak and Godzilla (1998) are used to represent scenes in Stockholm and Rangoon respectively, both of which are seen from the monitors.
  • Stingy Jack: One of the many monsters locked away is a tall figure with a jack o'lantern for a head that breathes fire.
  • The Stoner: Marty. His introduction scene involves him rolling up in his car while smoking from a bong that he's able to collapse to become a "travel mug" and he literally rolls up some blunts on the way to the cabin. He also has a variety of quirky stoner mannerisms, which get used against him when he tries to convince the rest of his friends that something is up. The Faculty's failure to treat his stash means that he keeps his wits the entire time, which leads to their entire plan unraveling in the second half of the film where that travel mug bong gets weaponized when he goes to save Dana.
  • Straw Nihilist: Marty is not pleased with the immorality of humanity and keeps pondering about what would happen if they went on as they were. Dana, by the end, is willing to have humanity be destroyed, determining their sacrifices at the expense of others was bad enough.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: What a classroom of Japanese students are shown contending with.
  • Stupidity-Inducing Attack: The scientists spiked Jules's hair dye with toxins to gradually decrease her intelligence.
  • Subhuman Surfacing Shot: Shortly after Dana is saved at the last minute by Marty, who turns out to have survived his clash with Judah Buckner, Matthew Buckner is knocked off the dock and into the lake below. However, as the two surviving teens flee the area, Matthew slowly rises from the lake until he's up to chest height, not only revealing that the zombie redneck is still active but also that he's within reach of the shore - forcing our heroes to keep moving.
  • Subverted Trope: All five of the main protagonists are immediately introduced doing something that completely undoes their perceived "role" in the movie, to the point of requiring the organization to heavily alter and manipulate them in order to have them play it straight. The only one who seems to play his role straight is Marty, who is later revealed to be The Hero.
    • To whit: Dana (the Virgin) is introduced dancing around in a T-shirt and panties, and is quickly revealed to have just gotten out of a torrid (or at least highly unethical) affair with one of her professors, Jules (the Whore) chastises her for it and is revealed to be a pre-med student, Curtis (the Athlete) actually recommends to Dana a better book to read for a specific class to impress that professor and is later revealed to be a sociology major, Holden (the Scholar) knows Latin but is the more stereotypically jock-type, and Marty (the Fool), while indeed a stoner, is shown to be rather intelligent and very philosophical in his initial appearance (and could be a downright genius if he built the massive collapsing coffee-mug bong himself).
  • Taking You with Me: The new Security officer for the organization detonates a grenade to blow himself up along with a pack of zombies. In a less (or more?) heroic version, Marty and Dana elect to survive the organization's attempts to kill them, thus dooming themselves and everyone on Earth to die when the Ancient Ones awaken.
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: The sacrifices have to fit certain archetypes for the ritual to work. This is aided artificially and doesn't need to fully match, however. The Whore, for instance, is being secretly drugged.
  • Taxidermy Terror: Beautifully played with. The cabin that the college kids go to has a mounted wolf's head on one of the walls, which creeps them out. In the evening, when they're playing "truth or dare", Jules has to make out with it on her dare. She does so, and then nothing happens. It was never alive.
  • Teen Horror: Enforced. As the Director explains, the ritual requires the sacrifices to be young people, a meta-reference to the popularity of teenage and college-age protagonists in the horror genre.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Moments before the elevators containing all of the facility's monsters open, a soldier realizes what's about to happen and just goes, "Oh, shit."
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Enforced Trope; the organization pipes what amounts to stupefying gas into the areas where the sacrifices are if they show signs of making sensible decisions (like not splitting up, not investigating the weird noise, not hitting Mr. Terrifying Thing more than once to make him stop moving, not making sure they're actually dead afterward, etc.).
    • The organization also has a Big Red Button, located in the lobby of all places, that releases all the monsters at once. There's a lot of debate as to why they would need this.
  • Torture Cellar: The Black Room.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Played straight with Marty's apparent "death". The double-bluff structure of the film averts this trope; the trailers spoil that there's science behind the magic, but not the magic behind the science.
    • Some characters (be monsters or troops) in the last half are also shown in brief glimpses.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Borderline example. It's implied that the monsters that appear in the last third are inspired by movie monsters. . . or inspired movie monsters.
  • Troperiffic: The entire point of the film.
  • "Truman Show" Plot: Albeit the thing staged is not a reality show, but a slasher movie.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Well, the monsters and nightmares aren't actually all controlled or tamed by the Facility, but they quickly attack all of the folks involved once Dana releases all of them.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Marty is stabbed in the back and dragged off-screen by a monster. He shows up later, and except for being rather roughed up by the zombie, he is perfectly fine.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Husband bulge".
    • A possible reference to Whedon show Dollhouse in which Topher Brink, also played by Fran Kranz, is uncomfortable with the word "erection" and prefers the term "man reaction".
  • Vertical Kidnapping: When Holden is in the Black Room, he gets yanked up to the trapdoor by Matthew Buckner's bear-trap thingy.
    • Lin is snatched up and hauled out of view by tentacles dangling from the ceiling.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: The controllers regret that they can no longer just toss a girl into a volcano as a sacrifice, referencing this trope. They now have to go by stock horror film cliches, which ironically often leaves the virgin Final Girl alive. There's also the problem of getting an actual virgin; they just work with what they can get.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The scientists controlling everything are doing so as part of a ritual that prevents the "Ancient Ones" from rising and destroying the world.
  • White Mask of Doom: Briefly seen in the basement, then again on some of the participants in "The Carnage".
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: It's not really explained why, with only minutes left to complete the ritual, The Director doesn't just bring a gun to the ritual room and kill Marty herself. Though, given the scenario (and the metaphor) that the film presents, she may have thought that The Ancient Ones would get angry about that and destroy the world anyway.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The cabin is referred to as "the old Buckner place" and they seem to have the greatest amount of history with the area as well as a portrait hanging in a bedroom. That said, it was only blind luck that Dana triggered the Buckner zombies before any of the others could activate their objects.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Not even kids are exempt from these rituals as one scene shows that the staffers in Japan summon a wraith-like entity to kill a room full of Japanese grades-schoolers. Surprisingly, these nine-year-olds manage to defeat it with The Power of Friendship, with zero fatalities. At least until the world ends. Sitterson drives this trope home with his line "How hard is it to kill nine-year-olds?"
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Curt clotheslines one of the zombies.
  • You Bastard!: The Ancient Ones are basically horror movie viewers. They watch people die in horrific, troperiffic ways, and, when their world does not go as they wanted it to, want to make it go away. And it's hard to not see the scientists/puppeteers as a metaphor for Hollywood's current horror output, repeating the same formula ad infinitum to appease its target audience's appetite for sex and gore as religiously as any ancient ritual. And you can see the two main scientists as a metaphor for a writer and a director, forced to keep putting out the same dross and lamenting their inability to try anything creative. 'I'll never see a merman,' indeed.
    • The characters not fitting into the archetypes the Facility has decided they should be might also serve as a metaphor for bad casting, or the bad acting that tends to come with horror.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Hadley has wanted to see a Merman in action for years. When he's attacked by one after the monsters are set loose, his last words are a disbelieving: "Oh, come on!"
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Matthew Buckner's bear-trap-on-a-chain weapon, used to clamp onto victims and drag them towards the redneck zombies. The Killer Robot drags a guard into saw-blade range from across the room during the opening act of The Carnage, although precisely how it yanks the man onto his knees and sets him sliding across the floor is unclear due to the Dragonbat and Werewolf being in the way.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: According to the Director, all the victims have to be young and be punished for various transgressions.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cabin In The Woods


The Werewolf

The Werewolf is an animalistic-humanoid Monster kept in the Facility. It is listed on the Whiteboard, and is bet on by the Finance department. It can be spotted several times during the System Purge.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / OurWerewolvesAreDifferent

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