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|“||It's different in every culture. And it has changed over the years, but it has always required youth.||„|
|~ The Director about The Ritual.|
"The Ritual", or "The Ancient Ritual", is an obscure ceremony that deals with blood as an offering only to a primordial race of terrifying entities known as the Ancient Ones and it has become necessary for humanity to perform since its very beginning for the sake of the Earth and for the safety of every human soul. It serves as the important but elusive key element in the 2011 horror comedy movie The Cabin in the Woods.
Long before humans existed, the great and powerful beings known as the Ancient Ones walked and ruled the world. When humanity first appeared, the Ancient Ones decided it would be more entertaining to let them continue their existence than destroy them, under specific guidelines that humanity had to adhere to.
It owes its existence to a long-standing tradition among its worshipers and those who manage to keep the Ancient Ones placated. Hadley rants that an undisclosed time ago, the Ritual was as simple as throwing a girl in a volcano. But as time went on, the desire for entertainment grew within the Ancient Ones and so they began changing the rules of the ritual that had to be performed verbatim or they would unleash their wrath. Soon the necessity of completing the ritual and carrying on humanity's existence was taken into the hands of The Organization, which stemmed from an ancient cult or multiple Ancient One worshiping cult groups all around the world who united to increase the chance of being successful each year.
Main Rules of the Ritual
- The ritual is performed once a year. Several locally adapted versions take place simultaneously all over the world in order to ensure success.
- Those whom are being sacrificed must be young or youthful.
- Each location has a different set of rules that, if completed correctly, the ceremony will be accepted by the Ancient Ones.
- If at least one of the worldwide rituals is completed, then the gods will be satisfied for another year.
- If all of the rituals fail, the Ancient Ones will awake, get angry and rise from their slumber to destroy the world.
The American Ritual
While each ritual has its own specific guidelines for success, none are really touched upon in detail except for the North American divisions sacrament (which is controlled by The Facility). The American Ritual consists of the following specific rules:
- There must be five at least archetypes that are punished for their foolishness and youth. While there may be more, these archetypes must at least include an Athlete, a Whore, a Scholar, a Fool, and a Virgin.
- The individuals chosen for these roles do not have to be consistent with them, and if needed, their personalities can be altered prior or during the Ritual to perform their role more accurately.
- A "Harbinger" must blatantly warn them of their forthcoming deaths, but they must choose to disregard him.
- The five must choose their method of death by tampering with an item that pertains to a Monster that relates to or prizes that item.
- The Whore must be the first to die, as she is the most tainted of the five. An optimal scenario has her stripping her clothes at least once.
- With each death, sacrificial blood must be poured into stone tablets that symbolize the individual's archetype, thus signifying their punishment and death.
- Once the Virgin is at least sexually tempted, the Scholar's life is expendable.
- The Virgin’s death is optional; she may live or die and still placate the Ancient Ones. However, if she is to die, she must die last.
The Japanese Ritual
The Ritual in Japan has a different set of rules, given the different cultural background. The shown scenario bears a close resemblance to the film Ringu. Some notable differences are:
- It seems to emphasize even younger victims (9 to 14 years old).
- There's a special emphasis in having a homogeneous group of young girls.
- No adult intervention seems to be present, such as a Harbinger.
- No nudity is needed.
The Stockholm Ritual
As part of their Ritual, a natural disaster must take place. A large volcano scenario is shown taking place, using footage from the film Dante's Peak.
- The Ritual and all the steps and modifications taken by the Organization can be seen as a deconstruction of cliche horror movie plots, particularly slasher films. Some of the tropes presented include:
- The Harbinger, being a shady old man at a run-down gas station, is homage to Drayton Sawyer from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and keeps making hidden references to The Ritual and the Ancient Ones.
- The first victim being "The Whore", I.E. the one who has sex first. Jules is also made into the "dumb blonde" stereotype via mind-altering chemicals put into her hair dye.
- The main characters foolishly "splitting up" while being hunted (done via mind-altering chemical sprays).
- The "Final Girl" trope, where the last remaining victim of the monster is a young woman left to confront the monster and tell the story.