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  • Acceptable Targets: Three of the monsters featured in the cubes are two Klansmen and a KKK Grand Wizard, who may or may not be demonic.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Was Marty justified in letting the world burn due to the horrific trauma he was forced to endure or was he just a self-righteous Straw Nihilist who doomed the world because he wanted to "rock the boat"?
    • Did the Japanese branch of the organization purposely throw the ritual because they don't want a group of school children killed?
  • Awesome Music:
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    • The use of REO Speedwagon's "Roll With the Changes" in the office party after Dana gets out of the lake.
    • The film's ending theme, no other than "Last", by Nine Inch Nails.
  • Cargo Ship: Marty challenges Jules to make out with a wall-mounted wolf head while playing "Truth or Dare." She gets really into it... leading to the creeped-out reactions of the rest of the cast.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • The whole movie, but in particular Curt jumping the ravine only to hit the barrier, and the moment the elevators all open unleashing all of the monsters. And then they open again and unleash even more monsters. And then Patience.
    • The monster attack is horrific and funny at the same time, but goes straight into Bloody Hilarious when you see someone being stabbed by an evil unicorn!
    • Similarly, the merman, expunging blood out of its blowhole.
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  • Cult Classic: It's bound to end up here, even two months after its original run it already had evening screenings in the same theaters showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight.
  • Director Displacement: Joss Whedon did not direct this film.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • "Kevin." Whoever he is, he exists as nothing more than a name on the whiteboard (and a brief mention in the novelization) but he has inspired a plethora of trope entries, Epileptic Trees, and Wild Mass Guessing, far more than any other character.
    • The killer unicorn and the lamprey-faced ballerina are also incredibly popular with fans, the former for being incredibly unexpected (and hilarious) and the latter for being absolutely terrifying.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
  • Fanfic Fuel: Well duh. There are hundreds of monsters in the cells below. Plenty of fics involve the protagonists releasing a different monster instead of the Buckners.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Dana and Marty are the subject of the lion's share of shipping fics written about the film.
  • Fanon:
    • The chem department's failure in 1998 is attributed to the film The Faculty in which none of the protagonists die, the supposed virgin is revealed as the monster, and said monster's undoing is triggered by the drugs another character makes. Damn chem department indeed.
    • If the merman were chosen, fans assume it would be triggered by a couple going skinny dipping in the lake or something of the sort.
  • Fix Fic: A fanon alternate ending surfaced after the movie's release where Marty reveals he's a virgin just before Dana dies from her wounds - as a way of preventing the Ancient Ones from destroying the world. This ignores the many times it's stated that the Virgin has to be a female.
  • Genius Bonus: The evil Unicorn makes a lot of sense within the context of the stock slasher movie plot. The Unicorns of classical mythology were actually quite wild and violent - and the only thing that could tame one was a virgin female. One has to wonder how the Unicorn would have reacted to Dana.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Anna Hutchison previously starred in Power Rangers Jungle Fury, and this was one of her first roles afterwards. Her situation is quite similar to actress Cerina Vincent, who was in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and went on to star in the similar film Cabin Fever. Both actresses played "The Whore", both went topless, both were the first to die, and both had played the Yellow Ranger.
    • Right around the time the film was finally released Supernatural coincidentally wound up airing an episode with a similar scene of an evil unicorn impaling someone to death with its horn.
    • The comment about one of the potential monsters being a merman seems a whole lot funnier when you consider the "killer merperson" concept would go on to be used in the Serbian-American horror movie, Nymph. And then the Freeform TV series Siren (2018) exploring a Darker and Edgier take on mermaid mythology. Notably, however, the evil merpeople are female in those respective works - so Hadley still hasn't seen a merman yet.
    • Come 2017, and the Buckners aren't the only zombie redneck torture family anymore...and that is something I'll likely never write again.
    • When the kids find the Artifact of Doom museum in the basement, Thor - sorry, Chris Hemsworth is the one who nearly unlocks the orb. (Conveniently, Thor is the first one to bring up the Infinity Stones to the Avengers!)
    • Hadley's remarks about never getting to see a merman. Well, Richard Jenkins, who played Hadley's partner Sitterton, would later have a major supporting role in The Shape of Water, a film about a Creature from the Black Lagoon-like merman.
  • Hollywood Homely: According to Word of God they deliberately gave Fran Kranz baggier clothes to wear, to hide the fact that he was surprisingly ripped underneath. This is also why Marty isn't shirtless in the scene at the lake.
  • It Was His Sled: Oh so wonderfully averted. People who have seen the film, especially fandom members and reviewers, are very careful to not ever spoil the film for people new to it.
  • Memetic Mutation: "The evil is defeated" line from the Japanese school children is frequently used when, well, something considered evil is defeated.
  • Older Than They Think: A horror movie about making a horror movie. Characters that revolve around slowly becoming their roles. A higher being out for blood that is only satiated with a new film. We're talking about the same movie, right?
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Because if there's anyone who knows how to deal with unimaginable horrors, it is Sigourney Weaver.
    • We only get to see many of the monsters in brief cameos. One of the most memorable is the evil unicorn.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Once you know why the kids must be sacrificed, is it out of the question to start rooting for the monsters and/or the organization?
  • Signature Scene: The entire, ridiculously violent final act. The first shot of the monsters' cells opening up and ambushing the facility security team, in particular, gets passed around often online.
  • Special Effect Failure: Jules' head, when dropped by Dana bounces as you'd expect a light prop head to bounce. Even the sound effects don't match the weight a head should have hitting the floor.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Believe it or not, this makes for a pretty good adaptation of the SCP Foundation. The main bad guys are a nebulous organization of questionable morality which possesses an enormous catalogue of monsters and other dangerous supernatural items (in this case, horror movie baddies), which it keeps and controls so as to prevent an XK-Class end-of-the-world event. And when the heroes find out about the lengths they're willing to go to, they take one look and say "fuck it, better to let the world end." The similarities get even creepier. S. Andrew Swann's proposal for SCP-001 is that it's the people who are writing the website. In this world. And a very good case could be made that, in Cabin in the Woods, the Ancient Ones represent horror fans.
    • This was discussed on the site and declared it to be Containment Breach: The Movie — unrelated to Containment Breach, the actual(ly freaky) SCP video game.
      Iceburg 7: Though I'd like to hope we wouldn't fail so badly. I mean, people haven't failed that badly at killing five teenagers since Rita Repulsa.
      emissary666: The idea that an entire site devoted to the prevention of an XK-scenario was so incredibly unprepared for a containment breach was just so shocking to me; especially how easy it was to initiate a breach event when they only kept Keter-level monsters.
  • Squick: Mortdecai spitting chewing tobacco several times during the gas station scene.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Jules is the first to die at the forty-minute mark. Due to Anna Hutchinson's fun performance and the character's likability before the in-universe Executive Meddling, some fans wish she had been the protagonist instead of Dana. CinemaSins's video about this movie also pointed this out, calling out that Jules is a girl in a committed and happy relationship while Dana is a girl that just ended an extra-marital affair with her teacher, and since neither was an actual virgin, Jules would be a better fit for the role of The Virgin than Dana.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Some of the other monsters would have made even more spectacular movies. Who wouldn't want to see an evil unicorn terrorizing a bunch of kids? Given what the movie's actually about, though, this is quite fitting; the Controllers are shown to be tired of the "traditional" scenarios and desire something that goes outside the box, but the Ancient Ones want Strictly Formula, and the Controllers know their audience all too well. They're wasting perfectly good plots, and they know it.
  • What an Idiot!: All of the evil monsters can be released with the press of a single Big Red Button. The Controllers are just asking for it! Dana does press multiple buttons before the red one, but they seemed to get released awfully easily.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Dana of course. As a deconstruction of the Final Girl, she's shoe-horned into being the boring one in the group.

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