The Cabin in the Woods (2011) Ending Explained – Who are the ancient ones?

The Ending of The Cabin in the Woods

The ending of the movie The Cabin in the Woods is a complex and multi-layered sequence, with several different elements that come together. After the five main characters enter the cabin and unleash various horrors, the survivors eventually discover a secret underground facility that is manipulating their every move. The facility is run by a group of technicians and scientists who are using the unwitting cabin-goers to fulfil an annual ritual offering to ancient gods, who require human sacrifices to keep the world from ending.

This has left a few hard to answer questions.

Who are the Ancient Ones?

The nature of the extra-dimensional beings referred to as “the Ancient Ones” and “the Old Gods” in the film has been left ambiguous. All we find out for sure is that they are massive, terrifying and hungry for human blood. There are some hints in the metacontext of the film for who they might be.

One theory states they are the embodiment of the ultimate horror monsters, the ones that would be the antagonists if any horror film went “all out”. They cannot be defeated, only delayed, but even delaying them requires something horrible beyond human compassion.

Another theory is that they are a stand-in for the audience itself or at least the audience of horror films in general. They sit beyond an unbreakable barrier demanding blood and gore, and only ever interact with the events in the film if this bloodthirst is not quenched.

Why did Curt’s death count as a sacrifice?

The film established certain rules around how the characters had to die in order to placate the Ancient Ones. But Curt did not die from the redneck zombies sent to kill him, so why did that count?

The most popular fan theory is that Curt, though being the Athlete stereotype, is also part of the Facility rather than being one of the sacrifices. He was the one who brought them all together, and he lied about his cousin owning the cabin as evident by Marty, who claims Curt doesn’t have a cousin. He is also the one who insists they talk to Mordecai, the Harbinger, and then keeps Mordecai from keeping the group there too long by uncharacteristically giving him more money instead of defending his girlfriend.

How did it all go wrong, all over the world, all at once?

The Cabin is not the only facility running these rituals; there are sister facilities all around the world. But we hear that Japan has a flawless record and America, host of The Cabin, has only failed once due to a technical glitch. We hear through the events of the film that Sweden and other facilities have failed this year, but that was to be expected. So how did two facilities with such flawless records fail without outside interference at the same time?

The film is about a secret global inter-government operation that has managed to keep the entire population of the world oblivious to the existence of the Ancient Ones and the doom that looms over them every year. It is not entirely outside the realm of reason that there is a sub-organization within The Facility that wants the opposite. A sort of doomsday cult, wanting to bring on the Armageddon. This would explain the many technical difficulties we see in the film, such as the drugs being too weak, the bridge not collapsing when it should have, etc. There’s even one theory that states the big red button was rewired by an outsider, because why would they have a button that just releases all the evil monsters into the facility?


All in all, these are just theories, as Cabin in the Woods does not outright state the answers to any of these questions. But we thought these theories hold up quite well. Do you agree? Do you have more questions or different answers? Comment below and let us know!

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