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One of the joys of Cabin in the Woods is that everything that we know from "standard" horror movies gets an explanation. The creepy warning, the reading of the Latin, the character archetypes, etc, everything is there for a reason. But one thing I just realized that I didn't understand was the two-way mirror that the Sacrifices find early in the film.

What was the point of that? It doesn't seem to play into them "choosing," like the Harbinger and the items in the basement do, and it doesn't have any apparent surveillance benefit for the technicians, given that they've got every room wired and it was covered up. I can't recall any other discoveries that show the cabin to be "more than just a cabin" like this, so it seems like it wasn't actually meant to be found. At the same time, the techinicians seem utterly unfazed by its discovery.

For a few minutes I thought it may be a hold-over from the days before the whole operation was computerized, but it seems odd for the technicians to risk entering the cabin during the ritual just to see into one of the other rooms. Aside from the risk to them personally, it would risk the Sacrifices seeing them if they ran into the adjoining room before the technician could hide.

Am I forgetting anything from the movie that revealed the purpose of the two-way mirror, or does its presence go unexplained?

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    I'm pretty sure they wanted them to find it. They covered it with the ugliest picture they could find in the hopes that the athlete or the scholar would spy on the whore or the virgin and have a husband's bulge.
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2014 at 20:43
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    I agree that it seems like they wanted them to find it, but why? I'm assuming you're kidding about the husband's bulge, but I honestly can't think of any reason for it except voyeurism, which benefits the technicians or the ritual not at all.
    – Nerrolken
    Oct 22, 2014 at 20:45
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    I'm guessing the discovery of one secret would encourage them to search the cabin for others, thus leading them to the cellar. Also, the generation of sexual tension is a key part of the ritual since the sacrifices need to prove that the whore is genuinely whorish.
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2014 at 20:46
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    @Richard: "Husband's bulge?" Did you teleport here from 1950. Oct 23, 2014 at 6:31
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    @JamesSheridan - It's a quote from the film
    – Valorum
    Oct 23, 2014 at 9:46

1 Answer 1

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Much like the other furnishings of the cabin, the two-way mirror and the horrendous painting covering it were designed to increase the atmosphere of the cabin and the tension of the group. The entire scenario revolved around placing the youngsters in a remote location where they would feel helpless, yet also prompting them to explore the environment (where they would eventually find the basement and choose a fate). Nothing prompts exploration like a mystery.

There was also a noted attempt to build sexual tension among the group, of which the mirror likely played a part. Specific comments made by

the technicians monitoring the situation indicated that they wanted the male on the viewing side to watch the unknowing female.

The fact that this didn't happen was a minor annoyance to them, both plan-wise and personally (since they didn't get to watch her undress).

You are correct in stating that everything had a purpose, since as we find out

everything that occurred - with the exception of The Fool and The Virgin finding their way into the facility (and the events that followed) - was carefully orchestrated to complete the ritual, even the old man at the very beginning before they even reach the cabin.

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    I feel like, in general, the "guy spying on a girl in a compromising situation" is a horror movie trope, generally used to either set the guy up for seeing the girl get killed (but cast doubt on his credibility due to the circumstances) or to have him be distracted enough to be killed himself. However, I can think of no good examples off of the top of my head.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 23, 2014 at 12:42
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    Agreed - I've seen it in numerous horror movies as well, going back to the late 70's. I think - from a film-making perspective - it has to do with the relations between voyeurism and repressed sexuality (which is an aspect of most movie killers).
    – Omegacron
    Oct 23, 2014 at 13:09
  • @SeanDuggan - As an added bonus, one of the first horror movies I ever saw had a scene with a guy watching a girl bathe through the keyhole. It was called "The Unseen" way back in 1980. So that trope's definitely been around for a while.
    – Omegacron
    Oct 23, 2014 at 17:26
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    I think that, in addition to potentially prompting them to explore, it could also have served as a sign that there was something weird about the cabin, which could prompt them to leave. So in that sense, it could be a part of their "choice," like a lesser Harbinger.
    – KSmarts
    Feb 4, 2015 at 20:10

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