In the 2011 movie The Cabin in the Woods, how were the authorities and/or employees of the organization planning to recapture the zombies that they had released to kill the five friends?

In general, how can they recapture any of the various deadly nightmares without hurting themselves?

  • 20
    That's what interns are for...
    – John C
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 13:05

5 Answers 5


There was a department/team called Wranglers (the name is on the betting pool board. They bet on the Angry Molesting Tree). Based on their name, it's reasonable to assume that their job is wrangling and collecting the creatures into their proper enclosures. See this image from this question Which of the items and monsters were references?:

Image of the betting board showing the threat and department


Good question.

It's only speculation, but I assume there's some "imprisonment ritual" for each one of the creatures. As you can see on the monitors showing Japan, the little girls knew and executed a ritual to defeat the Nightmare that the authority deployed on them. It's reasonable to think that there exists some type of "secure release" for each weapon on their arsenal. Otherwise it could be worse to clean the cabin than the whole process.

  • 1
    As I recall, Gary (the older technician) mentions that clean-up after "mermen" is a nightmare, which suggests that some monsters are more difficult to secure than others.
    – Beta
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 19:32
  • 8
    I think he means that "mermen" are much more "messy"
    – Bardo
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 7:19

The Nightmares were never truly "released". Instead, they were let out of their small enclosures (the cubes), and let into the larger, yet still contained, enclosure that happened to contain their victims.

Once the victims were dead, then it simply becomes a matter of getting the Nightmares onto the elevator.

As Bardo mentioned in another answer, at least some of the Nightmares had specific rituals or weaknesses.

Some likely examples:

  • The Japanese ghost could be contained by a ritual.

  • Others of the Nightmares could be overcome by brute force (the Buckners, the werewolves, and presumably the zombies and others).

  • the merman and the Kraken would likely return to water

  • the Buckners and the zombies would probably return to a grave

  • the Hell Lord would almost certainly go to whereever his puzzle box was. Note that he had it with him in his cell when Marty and Dana go down the elevator.

The most likely scenario seems to be that the device used to summon a specific Nightmare would be usable to also lure that Nightmare (or Nightmares) back to the containment cells.


The official novelisation indicates that there are "wranglers" for specific monsters.

Nodding to some people, shaking the hands of others, he edged his way toward one of their military liaisons, a big major with a clichéd moustache and hands the size of small dogs. He was talking with a werewolf wrangler —redundant during this show, unfortunately, but Sitterson had seen his sterling work before— and Ronald the intern.

Presumably there's a zombie wrangling team on hot stand-by.

  • If you search LinkedIn for zombie wrangler, just nothing comes up at all. I doubt if the company advertises. I wonder what employees tell people they do -- maybe they only socialize with fellow employees -- does the novelization get into this?
    – releseabe
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 14:53

I suspect doing the bidding of the Old Ones means that they will exert control over the monsters on your behalf. Note that this does not extend to protecting the personnel from the loosed monsters -- it is probably absolutely meaningless to the Dark Gods whether humans get killed -- no malice, just intense lack of interest. But if the rituals are correctly performed, the Elder Gods probably just command their creatures to return whence they came.

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