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The Ruins

A movie directed by Carter Smith

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Not Exactly A "RUINED" Affair But it Isn't Exactly A Good One Either...

  • Aug 11, 2010
Scientists have theorized that there are certain extinct plant life that can possibly induce partial mind control through their spores. They can cause anxiety, paranoia and fear to protect themselves from predators. Fossils have been found to support these theories and some plant life are even believed to be meat eaters and is capable of attracting prey. One plant that still exists today is the “Venus Flytrap” which is a predatory plant, so what do you think the possibilities are for a supposed extinct plant life to be able to prey on human beings?

THE RUINS is a film freely adapted from the novel by Scott Smith (Sam Raimi‘s A Simple Plan), who is also responsible for this film’s screenplay. Director Carter Smith is at the helm of this fright flick and he doesn’t shy away from giving us a straight-forward monster film. Oh, yes, in some ways, “The Ruins” is a monster film but it also doesn’t forget the horror of human nature.

              Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey in "The Ruins."

             Jena Malone as Amy in "The Ruins."

Four college students (Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone, Jonathan Tucker and Laura Ramsey) are on vacation in Mexico, a long week of margaritas and white sand beaches. When a German tourist (Joe Anderson) mentions a site where an ancient Mayan Temple stands, the foursome decides to get away from all the fun stuff and embark on a little adventure a day before they have to leave. Once the group arrives at their destination, they find that they are not welcomed by the local townsfolk and ends up being trapped on top of the temple. Little do they know that the angry locales and potential starvation are the least of their worries as the flowers and vines almost have a mind of their own--and they have a taste for human blood.

Murderous flowers. Sounds real campy doesn’t it? Well, the movie has a lot of flaws from the get-go with a script full of cliché, stereotypical characters, some nudity, the cast goes to secluded spot and nasty townsfolk traps them in a scary situation. The film does give off a lot of bad impressions that would cause us to roll our eyes immediately. The movie’s set up is definitely unoriginal that it gave the impression that here’s just another horror film that it doesn‘t stand out. It would take some patience in order for one to at least see its good moments.

                 Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore and Jonathan Tucker in "The Ruins."

               Jena Malone and Jonathan Tucker in "The Ruins."

The film is more on cerebral torture and the sense of dread. Human nature is also displayed as embodied by the scared townsfolk that they would do anything to keep whatever it is they fear secluded and quarantined than to try to understand the problem. The way that the director displays the feeling of dread and mental torment is by having our protagonists knife their own flesh to keep the vines from invading their bodies. Yes, blood and gore is omnipresent as these group of young people even perform an amputation with a steak knife that displays the gory details.

               Laura Ramsey and Shawn Ashmore in "The Ruins."

             Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey in "The Ruins."

The performance of its cast is a mixed bag. But Stacy (Laura Ramsey) does somewhat grab the spotlight as the only character who truly experiences the full of assault by the killer plants; physical violation and paranoia is experienced head on by this girl. The film relies on displaying visual gore instead of the usual emotional hysteria. With its visuals, the blood and gore gives an uneasy feel, and they serve as the film’s saving grace. The resulting self-inflicted despair and the panic from the vines is quite intense. It is rather frightening to have a ‘thing’ invading your flesh to breed in your body. It also emphasizes the feeling of being trapped and underestimating nature itself. The scenes are reminiscent of the movie “Cabin Fever”.

Unfortunately, after it achieves “shock value” through its sequences of human torment and the pain inflicted both psychologically and physically, the film becomes predictable again. The movie has already disconnected itself with its stereotypical characters and what makes it worse is its predictability near the climax. The proceedings had already displayed potential but it decided to go for the usual histrionics. The film should have also given more character development (ahem) to our “green” antagonist. The townsfolk seem to be a minor plot device to get everything going.

“The Ruins” is not by any means a bad movie. The film did manage to generate a feeling of dread and emotional torment that kept me interested for the most part. It is a little better than fair but comes a little short of being ‘good’. It is a modest attempt to emulate raw human horror and a lot more decent than the recent Hollywood remakes that has plagued us of late. It did manage to generate a feeling of claustrophobia and panic but its formulaic approach just kills whatever it manages to bring into bear. “The Ruins” isn’t a total “ruin”; it’s just rather uneven and forgettable.

Rental [2 ½ + Stars]
Note: The Unrated version has a bleaker climax than its theatrical release. The DVD contains 2 alternate endings and extended scenes of character development.

Not Exactly A Not Exactly A

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August 15, 2010
Aw crap, I would have been perfectly content to skip this until I realized Jena Malone was in it. Now I have to see it no matter how awful it is! Gee, thanks Woo. Next thing you'll review a piss-poor romantic comedy with Natalie Portman just to make me suffer through that too. ; )
August 16, 2010
Jena Malone is pretty hot. Now I am about to find that sappy romantic drama with Portman in it. LOL! Natalie Portman may make the new Thor movie bearable. LOL
August 16, 2010
Doubt it. Marvel cursed themselves with reboots and by selling out to Disney.
August 11, 2010
this movie was so cheesy it was kind of funny! the whole premise of plants attacking people was so weird and the way it was portrayed was so unrealistic i had to laugh. i especially like the part where the plant picks up the cellphone to lure the girl in...and how it imitates human voices to capture prey. and the kid who was supposed to be going to medical school was pretty unhelpful when it came to medical treatments for wounds caused by vindictive vines. love the review as usual though.
August 11, 2010
he-heh. I won't argue with you; some parts of it were indeed quite too heavy-handed and cheesy. This had some moments but it never quite capitalized on them. Thanks for the read, eyez! (oh, I decided to round down instead of rounding up, made a mistake LOL!)
August 12, 2010
I have a friend, Mark La Flamme, who wrote a book VEGETATION about plants attacking people and it's excellent, a real spooky book. For fantasy I always suspend my disbelief... That's part of the fun, WOOPY! You chose pictures that made me want to see this movie. I haven't viewed the trailer yet, but I'll keep my eye peeled for this. Thx for sharing. xo
August 11, 2010
Yeah man this was just a fun turn off the brain flick, great review WP.
August 11, 2010
not bad for a distraction for sure.
More The Ruins (movie) reviews
review by . April 29, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****    "The Ruins" has some of the clearest cinematography I've seen in the dark, dark places of any horror movie in some time. While most genre pictures contain nighttime scenes in which most things on-camera are nigh impossible to see, everything here looks absolutely crisp. When a character descends into a pitch black abyss, we see only what we need to see; and that's plenty. When night falls, the torches of the secondary antagonists light the way, and even then, …
review by . March 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I'll admit that when I first saw the trailer for "The Ruins" in theaters, I was pretty interested in seeing it. Once in finally came out, however, I decided that it looked more like a DVD rental. In my opinion, I was correct.    The film begins with a young lady in a dark room crying for help. As usual, she can't get a signal on her cellphone and she is eventually pulled into the darkness screaming all the way. From there, the film introduces us to four of the primary players …
review by . September 08, 2008
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this movie and having not read the book I was surprised to find it to be pretty decent. It starts off just like an original horror movie but shift as you get further into it. The Ruins takes place in Mexico with four college-age kids (Tucker, Malone, Ashmore and Ramsy) and another guy (Anderson), the latter who takes them to a Mayan temple where his brother is working supposedly on a dig. When they get there, a bunch of angry Mexican-Myans attack them, they …
review by . October 29, 2008
The Ruins - Movie
Couples Amy and Jeff, and Stacy and Eric are vacationing in Mexico. By the pool they meet a German named Mathius, who says his brother Heinrich is missing and he's going to go look for him near some ruins. Mathius talks the couples into going with him. Heinrich left a map showing the location of the ruins, far off the tourist area of the Yucatan.     The next day the couples and Mathius set out, accompanied by Demitri, a Greek friend who doesn't speak English. After a bus, a …
review by . September 29, 2008
Four young, attractive Americans are in Mexico for a few days of Spring Break-like laying around and drinking. They meet a young, attractive German guy who encourages them to go with him to visit a Mayan ruin that is off the tourist radar. You see, his brother, an archeologist, has gone there with his girlfriend...otherwise they'd have the place to themselves. The Americans, in a nod towards soaking up some history & culture, accompany their new friend to the ruin, which is nothing more than a modest …
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About this movie


Whether you consider plants a source of terror or not will ultimately determine how you feel about the grisly horror movieThe Ruins, but director Carter Smith and his cast and crew certainly give their all in bringing the chills of Scott Smith's novel to the big screen. Jena Malone (Saved) and Shawn Ashmore (theX-Menfranchise) are the name actors in a pair of American couples down Mexico way who are ambushed by hostile Mayans and forced to the top of an ancient temple, where a monstrous and diabolically clever entity awaits them. Director Smith and his talented crew (which includes cinematographer Darius Khondji ofSe7enfame and composer Graeme Revell) create a visually impressive spookshow but can't quite deliver genuine suspense (gore, however, is handled capably), and Scott Smith's script boils away much of the character development and mounting terror in his book, which also strands the likeable cast. The movie's monster, so alarming and imaginative in the original novel, is likely to provoke as many laughs as screams from filmgoers, especially when it reveals its unique talent.-- Paul Gaita
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Director: Carter Smith
Genre: Action, Adventure, Horror
Release Date: April 4, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Scott B. Smith
DVD Release Date: July 8, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 30min
Studio: Dreamworks SKG
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