When Dana And Marty make it into the underground complex after they leave the elevator they find themselves in room with 8 (ish..) doors and some form of control booth. They go into the control booth and find "a big red button" with I believe the label Purge all or Purge system!

Dana says:

An army of nightmares, huh? Let's get this party started.

The result of pressing this button is that all the Monsters are release into the underground complex.

I can't think of any reason why you might have such a button in the control booth, can anyone supply me why the button exists?

  • 1
    Good question, can't think of a decent 'in universe' answer
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 16:38
  • How funny, I was just about to ask this very question ;)
    – Nobby
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 18:05

5 Answers 5


As per The Cabin in the Woods Wikia:

The System Purge, also called just the Purge or the Carnage, was when Marty Mikalski and Dana Polk unleashed all the monsters in the glass rooms into The Facility. This was accomplished with a button in the control panel marked "System Purge." During the Purge, each and every one of The Facilities monsters are let out in waves, eight at a time. The first wave of monsters includes: the werewolf, the zombies, a witch, the Dismemberment Goblins, the dragonbat, the Giant Snake, the Angry Molesting Tree and the killer robot.

Why the facility had the need for a System Purge is unknown, but it is likely that this is a reference to the eleventh-hour deus ex machina that is a common trope in the horror genre.

So the button is an obvious satire of the eleventh-hour "deus ex machina" in horror movies. (Reference)

  • 1
    I saw that article, and a few other posts with similar, will give it a day or two to see if anyone else comes up with anything better.
    – AidanO
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 8:58
  • More like diabolis ex machina.
    – cde
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 22:53

The only thing that I can think of is that this is designed to purge - i.e. destroy or remove all the 'nightmares' in the complex. It would have to be used in conjunction with whatever you needed to kill everything, poison gas or whatever supernatural 'thing' you need to do the job.

That said, you would need to have this 'agent' available, plus to leave the 'big red button' active seems rather careless. Any decent engineer would design failsafe mechanisms to prevent the button being used by unauthorized people, and in the event that it was to destroy everything, you would want it to only be active when the 'agent' was being used too.


Just as the ritual is rigged against the kids (they're forced into playing archetypal roles and making fatal decisions via drugs and subliminals), it's rigged against the facility workers. I think the button only exists for a survivor to push; if they make it that far, they must choose between self-sacrifice or self-interest (which dooms humanity). When the facility worker observes Dana on the monitor and says he's almost rooting for her, I think he has this outcome in mind. The gods need blood -- whether they get a little at a time or all at once is up to us.

  • Interesting interpretation.
    – AidanO
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 15:50

I suspected that it stood as the absolute last ditch effort to kill the victims. Everyone in that facility knew their job, and that the youth must die at all costs. If all else fails, release EVERY BAD THING EVER, and hope for the best. Clean up crew can come by later to fix it up if there is still a world to fix.

  • Good suggestion +1, but if so, is badly designed if it allows them into the space used by the facility workers. But since the whole thing seems badly designed its no worse an answer than mine!
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 15:10
  • I like this suggestion, but I have to agree with ian, it would have to purge up, not down!!
    – AidanO
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 8:53

I don't believe that's supposed to serve any real purpose, rather, It's a nod to all the monster movies where the hero comes across some abruptly added plot device that gives the victims a chance against the impossible odds. like when in a movie the victims find out that water or the common cold is deadly for the monster. What I want to know is: if the kids were going up to a cabin for the weekend, why the heck would they take an RV?

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