Cabin In The Woods Ending Explained (In Detail)
2012’s meta horror-comedy The Cabin in the Woods ends on a bleak note, but its ending actually contains a deep message about the horror genre itself.
Despite releasing over a decade ago, the depth of The Cabin in the Woods‘ horror satire and ending is still drawing discussion. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods bends the horror genre n away that’s rarely done well, introducing subtle but persistent satirical subtext into what seems on the surface to be a relatively simplistic slasher. The film’s use of satire is ultimately what separates The Cabin in the Woods from its more self-serious contemporaries, securing the film a lasting legacy alongside the likes of Scream and The Evil Dead.
While it’s primarily a satirical take on the horror genre, The Cabin in the Woods is also able to carry off much of what makes horror movies so popular. This is ultimately why the film remains so popular (in fact, The Cabin in the Woods landed Chris Hemsworth the role of Thor, technically making it the Australian actor’s breakout role), as its reverence for the horror genre is immediately offset by its biting satire. however, this also leads to some confusion regarding the specific meaning of the film and its ending.
Despite starting out as a seemingly mundane slasher, The Cabin in the Woods soon establishes a more sinister premise. This is also used to offset the tension of the titular cabin with more comedic scenes in the facility below, but the film’s third act sees the two combine. As the horror is quickly amped up in anticipation of the film’s final twist, it’s easy to miss some of the more nuanced elements of The Cabin in the Woods‘ ending.
What Happens In The Cabin In The Woods’ Ending
After witnessing the brutal murder of three of their friends, Dana and Marty escape the cabin by using an access hatch that leads to the facility below. Here they meet The Cabin in the Woods‘ many monsters, realizing that they were made to choose the creatures that stalked and murdered their friends. After setting the monsters free to wreak havoc on the facility, Dana and Marty delve deeper, finding themselves in a stone ritual chamber.
It’s here that they learn the true meaning of the nights’ events: they were selected as part of an annual sacrifice to the Ancient Ones, powerful malevolent beings that threaten to reclaim the Earth if their yearly sacrifice isn’t offered. After finding out they’re the last hope for the sacrifice to bec ompleted, Marty refuses to die to save the Earth, and through his inaction, allows the Ancient Ones to rise. This leads to the film’s final shot – a colossal inhuman hand breaking through the Earth’s crust.
The Cabin In The Woods’ Ritual Explained
After spending much of the film being stalked by The Cabin in the Woods‘ Buckner family, Dana and Marty finally uncover the nature of the ritual they’ve unwittingly become a part of. In order to appease the Ancient Ones, each year a sacrifice must be made of at least five innocents. Sigourney Weaver’s Director explains that the ritual is different all over the world, but youth is key, and that the US ritual involves teenagers of certain archetypes – the Athlete, the Whore, the Scholar, the Fool, and the Virgin – and that hey must be punished for their – “transgressions.”
While The Cabin in the Woods doesn’t largely explore the nature of other countries’ rituals, the monitors seen around the facility indicate that they follow slightly different cultural rules, seemingly baed on other horror sub-genres (J-Horror in Japan, Kaiju in Argentina, and disaster movies in Sweden). This uses the ritual as a way of connecting The Cabin in the Woods to other horror movies by asserting that the rules may change, but the ritual is the reason for various common tropes. The ritual is shown to be at the very core of Cabin in the Woods‘ story, influencing the Organization to control their victims’ every move to ensure the Ancient Ones are appeased.
Will the Ancient Ones Destroy The Earth?
The Ancient Ones being released in the film’s final moments (as well as Dana and Marty’s comments about the need to wipe the slate clean) indicate that the failure of the ritual will ultimately mean the destruction of human society. This is something that The Cabin in the Woods foreshadows in its first few scenes, although the film’s ending leaves humanity’s ultimate fate ambiguous. While the giant hand of the emerging Ancient Ones seems to be a bad sign, it doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of Earth.
As The Cabin in the Woods 2 didn’t happen, the specifics of the film’s aftermath have yet to be explored, but the nature of the ritual itself offers some indication as to what the Ancient Ones might do. The idea that mankind has spent millennia appeasing the Ancient Ones with rituals implies that their most likely course of action would be some form of subjugation of the human race, not outright destruction. Ritual sacrifice having played a part in their prolonged dormancy implies a connection to humanity that would most likely see humans enslaved by the Ancient Ones as opposed to exterminated, meaning that the Earth would most likely continue, albeit in a very different way.
The Cabin In The Woods’ Horror Satire Explained
The film’s status as a satirical take n the horror genre is evident, but Cabin in the Woods‘ horror movie Easter eggs take its links to the genre to impressive heights. As the film starts with a basic horror movie set-up before elaborating on it with the reveal that this has been achieved by design, it takes the most common tropes of the genre and gently dismantles them, This is the film’s biggest running theme, as it dissects many of the core ideas behind slasher movies and injects them into a story with a bigger, more supernatural threat that effectively paints the teenagers ‘ will to live as the biggest obstacle mankind must overcome.
The Cabin in the Woods‘ satire of the horror genre is achieved while simultaneously leaning into the same tropes. This makes the film’s use of various recognizable horror villains – including “The Hell LOrd” (a Hellraiser reference), zombies, werewolves, and a clown strikingly similar to Tim Curry’s Pennywise – all the more transparent as clear riffing on the narrative overkill employed by many of ts contemporaries. By turning its protagonists’ will to live into the real threat, The Cabin in the Woods uses its satire to flip the audiences’ expectations while posing an interesting ethical existential question.
The Real Meaning Of The Cabin In The Woods’ Ending
As the film is a clear satire of the horror genre, The Cabin in the Woods‘ Ancient Ones could be interpreted as a stand-in for the average horror movie audience. By sticking to the established tropes of the genre, the Ancient Ones/audience are kept happy, but deviation from these expectations proves to be ill-advised. By having the film end with the failure of the ritual and the rising of the Ancient Ones, The Cabin in the Woods leaves n survivors, indication that deviation from the norm leads to a reaction which means that no one gets the preferred outcome.
On a deeper level, this appears to be an expression of the frustration that comes from the limitations of the genre. Asserting that these archetypes exist as part of some ancient order that perhaps needs to be challenged, The Cabin in the Woods‘ ending protests the paradoxical nature of horror movies – audiences ultimately want to see something new that still feels like something familiar. By having The Cabin in the Woods end with a worst-case scenario, the film implies that these expectations set up both audiences an filmmakers for disappointment.
Original article at Screen Rant.
This article has been reproduced for archive purposes.