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File:CitwTeaserSmall 243.jpg

That's one complicated Rubik's Cube

"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, a 2012 horror movie, sets itself apart from other horror movies by virtue of its co-writers (Joss Whedon and Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard, who also directed this film) — and by deconstructing both the cabin in the woods setting and horror movies in general. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford.

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

As a note: we can't really get into the tropes without spoiling damn near the entire film. We've tagged spoilers as normally as possible, but honestly, reading past this paragraph will blow most of the movie's surprise, since we can only preserve the real punch of the film with an entire page of white. (We placed really spoileriffic tropes behind their own special folder, just in case.) Anyone who wants to see the movie fresh should go watch the movie first instead of reading about it here.

The Cabin in the Woods provides examples of the following tropes:

"Safe" tropes

  • Actor Allusion: The uncredited, but extremely memorable One-Scene Wonder Sigourney Weaver as the secretive, feared Director of a government facility dealing with containing and exploiting the supernatural, and isn't above engaging in a little badassery when her goals are jeopardized. Which accurately describes the same performer's role as the "Big Guy" of the movie Paul, which was released earlier but filmed later.
  • 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 (save Truman) are grinning ear to ear and eager to see some action. They only leave (with plenty of "Awww"s of disappointment) when Hadley shoos them out of the room.
  • Anyone Can Die: In addition to the usual expected horror movie deaths, this trope is also openly invoked as a plot point.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Patience's diary.
  • Arsenal Of Doom: The cabin basement. Though we eventually settle on the tried and true Tome of Eldritch Lore.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Pa Buckner's beartrap-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.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: One of the zombies pulls Marty through a window. 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 finally gets to see his Merman. And then it eats him. He curses his luck before he dies.
  • Beehive Barrier: It surrounds the site. And it doesn't just deflect contact, it fries whatever touches it.
  • Big Bad: The Director is initially presented at this, then turns out to be Necessarily Evil due to...
  • Bigger Bad: The Ancient Ones.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Marty.
  • Big Red Button: One of these releases all of the monsters kept in containment. It's also disturbingly easy to access and activate.
  • Black Comedy: Boy howdy.
  • Bloody Hilarious
  • Break the Cutie: Dana. As to be expected
  • 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.
    • The merman. "Oh, come on..."
    • Also, each and every single monster on the board (except maybe Kevin) is released and seen during the final act. Yes, including the Angry Molesting Tree.
    • The intern splits the pot with Maintenance.
  • Buffy-Speak: In the credits, even. "Japanese Floaty Girl."
  • Casting Gag: This is the third time Amy Acker has played a scientist in a Joss Whedon production.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Played with the coffee mug bong. Subverted with the motorbike.
  • 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. Made even more delightful in that it is targeted at a group of 9-year-olds.
  • Creepy Basement
  • 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"
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Marty.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: All of them.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Marty was surprisingly on the money about a lot of things even before they started to go to hell.
  • 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 teens 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.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat
  • Death by Irony: Steve, 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.
  • Death by Sex: Invoked, lampshaded, discussed, and justified, not all in that order.
  • Deconstructive Parody
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of horror films.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: This happens.
  • Development Hell: The film was stuck on release since 2010 after MGM's bankruptcy and was almost released in 3D in 2011. Finally, Lionsgate acquired the distribution rights to the film and released it in 2012.
  • 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.
  • The Determinator: Curt. He goes from sensible, level-headed guy to headstrong savior to grease spot at the bottom of the canyon.
  • Don't Go in The Woods: Invoked. The person who tells them this is one of the controllers' minions, and he was raising tension as part of the experiment — at least, from what the trailer tells us.
  • Dumb Blonde: Yet another Invoked Trope. Jules is neither naturally blonde nor dumb, but her hair dye has been treated with a slow-acting toxin that retards cognitive ability.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ancient Ones, a bunch of sadistic god-like beings who like to watch humans die in fascinating, troperiffic ways. Just like a horror-viewer.
  • Empathic Environment: Invoked when Hadley and Sitterson fine-tune the weather to encourage Curt and Jules to fool around.
  • Enforced Trope: This is most of the plot.
  • 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 and BOUNCES down to the bottom of the canyon.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Insofar as they can be called evil, the opening scenes show Hadley talking to Sitterson about how he and his wife are preparing to have a baby.
  • Everybody Lives: The Japanese scenario. At least until the failure of the US branch leads to the end of the world...
  • Expy: Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain, is an obvious riff on Pinhead, with his puzzlebox, bondage outfit, and head full of sharp objects.
  • Faceless Goons: "Internal Security"
  • Face Revealing Turn: The ballerina girl/"Sugarplum Fairy". Though it would be generous to call it a "face".
  • 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."
  • Five-Man Band: Enforced to the point it becomes a crucial element of the plot. The characters begin the film as fleshed-out human beings rather than stereotypes; even the stoner, who we are introduced to while he is smoking an enormous bong, turns out to be witty and has some surprising insights to human nature, such as why he can get away with smoking an enormous bong in the middle of his car in broad daylight. As the film progresses, each character conforms more closely to archetypes through the scientists' use of chemicals - except the stoner, who is immune due to the Chem department giving him the wrong drugs.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Marty's comment about how society should crumble, but we're all to 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.
    • The opening credits have unmistakable illustrations of Human Sacrifice.
  • 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, often by pure luck.
  • 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 live their lives 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 Five-Man Band.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • The main characters have shades of this.
    • The scientists in control as well. They refer to the teens trapped in the woods based on roles typically found in horror movies, such as "the virgin" and "the fool," the latter referring to the film's resident stoner.
    • The whole movie can be seen as a subversion of the concept, as the main characters often exhibit Genre Savvy but every time they do so the controllers sabotage them so that the sacrifice can proceed according to plan.
    • Marty is particularly Genre Savvy, but given what his actions lead to, it's Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Gorn: And loads of it.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Rather severely averted for the first wave of "The Carnage", then played surprisingly straight for wave two.
  • Heroic BSOD: Dana is rendered borderline catatonic after watching most of her friends being murdered and being swung around by the largest zombie. But snaps out of it to push the Big Red Button...
  • Hillbilly Horrors: "They may be zombified pain-worshipping backwoods morons ..." "But they're our zombified pain-worshipping backwoods morons."
  • History Repeats: The US branch has had only one glitch, in 1998, when the Chem[ical] Department failed to do its duty. Guess which department failed to account for Marty's hobbies?
  • 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.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The white board for the betting pool has "witches" and "sexy witches" Though you never get to see them.
  • Human Sacrifice: Necessary to appease the Ancient Ones, though they don't just want deaths, but suffering as well.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Pa Buckner's weapon of choice is a bear trap attached to a length of chain.
  • Improvised Weapon: Marty's bong.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When the scientists start cracking open beers, Lin says that while Hadley and Sitterson are celebrating, she is drinking.
  • 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.
  • Infant Immortality: 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. Of course, the end implies that they're doomed anyway.
  • It Got Worse: "Oh, man..."
  • Ironic Echo:

 Curt: "Let's get this party started!"

  • Jerk Jock: Subverted by Curtis, who is pushed into this role by the villains, but is actually an intelligent sociology major who never acts like an alpha male douchebag.
  • 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.
  • Killer Game Master: Hadley and Sitterson have this trope as their profession.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Werewolves, robots, ghosts, zombies, giant snakes..... and a bloodthirsty unicorn
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When Truman objects to manipulating the teens to have sex in the woods, just so the cameras can capture Jules' nudity, the controllers respond with "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.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang! / Never Split the Party: When the zombies are attacking everyone in the cabin, Curt says they shouldn't split up under any circumstances. The scientists then release a new gas, causing him to turn around and say they should all split up and go into their own rooms. 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 Hollywood Nerd to fulfill their roles in the ritual.
  • Monster Mash:
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie is exceedingly fond of making hilarious jokes instants before gruesome events, and vice-versa.
  • 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.
  • Nested Mouths: The Sugarplum Fairy
  • Never Trust a Trailer: It's a Deconstructive Parody of horror films. It's 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Overlaps with Pyrrhic Victory. Our heroes have dismantled the controllers' base and escaped being killed for the Ancient they can be killed by the Ancient Ones (along with the rest of humanity) now the ritual's broken and they've returned to Earth. Whee?
  • Nietzsche Wannabe Marty and Dana by the end.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Zombie Redneck Torture Family, among many others.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: One of the things listed on a whiteboard of monsters is simply named "Kevin". We never find out who or what Kevin is, let alone what he/it looks like.
  • 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 1998, when the Chemical Department screwed up. No further elaboration is made, giving rise to fan theories that it's a possible Take That to a particular horror film released on that year.
  • Not So Above It All: Lin tries to present herself as distanced from the "clowning" behavior of Sitterson and Hadley, such as their organizing the office betting pool about which horror scenario the kids will incur. But this doesn't fool Hadley, who, after asking whether Truman is placing a bet, simply reaches out wordlessly in Lin's direction. Lin sheepishly stuffs some money and her prediction into his hand.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: "I had to disembowel that guy with a trowel."
  • 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's reaction when they realize the monsters have all been released.
  • One Last Smoke: Marty and Dana share one last joint before the world goes to hell in a hand basket.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Because if there's anyone who knows how to deal with unimaginable horrors, it is Sigourney Weaver.
  • The Only One: Averted. The obvious one here is the Japan branch's work with the schoolgirls, but considering the dozen of other operations we're given glimpses of, there are quite a few other stories going on in the periphery of this one.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Marty and Curtis are both stabbed in the back, yet show no effects from their injuries in later scenes. The bear trap weapon also seems to have little effect on anyone except tying them up for a moment.
  • Only Sane Man: Marty, who keeps cautioning the group against actions like reading the mysterious Latin. His pot-smoking has made him Properly Paranoid as well as resistant to the mind-altering chemicals used by the villains.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In fact, "Pain-worshipping redneck zombies" and "zombies" are classified as two separate species on the board. The Intern and Maintenance split the pool for the former arriving first, but the regular zombies appear later.
  • Paint the Town Red: The aftermath of "The Carnage"
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted. Sitterson and Hadley spend most of the movie manipulating the Main Characters into meeting their gory ends. When it looks like everyone but Dana has died and their job is done, Hadley starts to comment how he's actually rooting for Dana to survive after all the torment they've put her through, but he doesn't even finish that sentence before breaking out the tequila and declaring it party time. What follows is a big office party with everyone having a good time and congratulating themselves, paying no attention as Dana gets savaged by a zombie in the background.
  • The Power of Friendship: Used to defeat the ghost in the Japanese scenario. Now she'll live happily as a frog... at least until the world ends.
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • Railroading: Hadley and Sitterson resort to this with pheromone mists and remote-control doors.
  • Really Gets Around: Subverted with Jules, who gets pushed into the role of "the whore" by the villains with drugs and pheromones. She recalls an apparent trist with Marty in their freshman year, but Marty makes it clear that nothing happened.
  • The Reveal: Several.
    • It becomes clear rather quickly that the events of the cabin are being controlled by the lab of scientists, who are making the scenario play out as a horror scenario should, i.e. everyone dying except the virgin, the characters making stupid decisions, etc., through the use of pheromones that influence their thought process.
    • The lab is actually filled with monsters in glass cages, including zombies, giant spiders, evil clowns, demonic spirits, etc. The artifacts in the basement of the cabin each hook in to a different monster, and what monster was released depended on what artifact was selected first.
    • And then the ultimate reveal: The whole experiment in the lab is actually to complete an annual ritual created by demonic beings called "The Ancient Ones", who enjoy watching humans suffer. The ritual requires at least five people (and at least one each of: The Athlete, The Whore, The Scholar, The Fool, and The Virgin) to die in horrific ways, while saving the virgin for last. If the ritual is not completed, The Ancient Ones will destroy the earth. There are several labs all across the world, and their sole purpose is to ensure the scenario plays off without a hitch (see the first reveal), which is why horror characters always make such bad decisions. As it turns out, the entire fate of the world depends on it!
  • Scary Scarecrows: Truman is savaged by a gang of evil scarecrows.
  • Schmuck Bait: The cellar isn't just this, it's filled with these.
  • Side Bet: The scientists bet on what horror the protagonists will select.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Angel: The symbol on the floor and the one on the controllers' talismans sure looks like the Circle of the Black Thorn . . .
    • The entire controller's compound is reminiscent of The Initiative from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • The Evil Dead: College friends, cabin in the woods, evil basement, ominous book with ancient chant, and evil molesting trees. "Deadites" also show up on the betting board. The cabin itself looks almost identical to the one from the Raimi movies.
    • Hellraiser: The pale guy in black bondage gear, holding a puzzlebox, with sharp metal things embedded in his head.
    • Serenity: During "The Carnage", one video clip shows the woman from Serenity shooting herself before being taken by Reavers. And you wouldn't know it was from somewhere else.
      • Incorrect. The actress was not Sarah Paulson and it was not the exact clip, just an homage.
    • Alien: On a monitor during "The Carnage" you can see the foot of a Xenomorph advance towards a cowering woman, the same way the shot happened in another movie Sigourney Weaver was in. (Hint: It's Alien)
    • The third act is full of shout outs to a bevy of horror films from recent years, among the more generic zombies and Giant Spiders are some doll-masked strangers, a Boomer, a torturer in a mask and leather apron straight from Hostel and the scarecrows that tear apart Truman are actually from the 80's B-movie of the same name, they even get taken out the same way.
    • Carrie: The very end, with the hand comimg out of the ground, might be a reference to the ending of Carrie.
    • The shifting square containment cells might be a shout out to Cube.
    • On one of the television monitors, we can see a King Kong expy lying on the ground dead.
    • "Huron", from the betting board, may be a Stock Ness Monster reference, as Lake Huron has its own "lake monster" legends.
    • The Shining: The twin girls can be seen when all the containment cells are shown
    • First Encounter Assault Recon: A formally heavily armed SWAT member crawls away from a Creepy Child.
    • The Strangers: some of the villains in the carnage are a group of silent, well-dressed men and women with white porcelain masks. They are later seen dousing some bound technicians with gasoline, implying that they're non-supernatural killers.
  • Shoot the Dog: Dana comes close to doing this when she strongly considers killing Marty to prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Sigourney Weaver.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Enforced as Jules dyes her hair blonde just before the trip. The controllers even put toxins and pheremones in the dye to influence her behaviour.
  • Smart People Know Latin: Played very deliberately. There is literally nothing to establish Holden as the Smart Guy except that he wears glasses and suddenly remembers enough high school Latin to decipher the incantation. The only reason he's The Scholar is because the controllers decided he is.
  • Spanner in the Works: Marty, the Fool, had the audacity to survive when he was supposed to die. This is not as much of a good thing as it sounds.
  • Spooky Painting: The hunting scene portrayed in Holden's room is kinda.... visceral.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Marty notices that there are no stars outside, despite being out in the middle of the woods.
  • The Stoner: One of the protagonists. Interestingly, since the Chem department gave him the wrong weed, his drug-use makes him immune to the pheromones, making him immune to the enforced genre-blindness.
  • 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.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Truman blows himself and a bunch of scarecrows up with a grenade. Still doesn't save Hadley, Sitterson and Lin.
    • Marty and Dana do it to the whole of humanity.
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: The sacrifices have to fit certain archetypes for the ritual to work. Amusingly many of them do have elements of the archetypes required, but not the ones they are manipulated into. For example Curtis is a smart guy with an in-depth knowledge of Russian philosophy and a full Sociology scholarship, but he's "the athlete." Holden, on the other hand, has "the best hands on the team" by Curtis's admition, without any academic merits mentioned, but he's "the scholar." Marty notices that Jules's newfound sexuality and Curtis's alpha-male posturing are out of character for them. Dana is shocked by being dubbed "the virgin."
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Hadley and Sitterson.
  • 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.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: "The Carnage"
  • Unexplained Recovery: Marty is stabbed in the back and dragged off-screen by a monster. He shows up later, perfectly fine.
  • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The scientists controlling everything are doing so as part of a ritual that prevents the Bigger Bad "Ancient Ones" from rising and destroying the world.
  • What Might Have Been: An entire betting board of in-universe examples.
  • White Mask of Doom: Briefly seen in the basement, then again on some of the participants in "The Carnage".
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • The guys behind the scenes have some sort of gas that makes the characters act like this, making the jock decide everyone should split up and not stay together.
    • Marty finds the hidden cameras and concludes, "I'm on a reality TV show!"
  • X Meets Y:
  • You Bastard: The Ancient Ones are basically like horror movie viewers. They watch for people to 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.

Spoiler Tropes