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The Ruins

A movie directed by Carter Smith

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With Multiple Viewings, This One Might Grow On You

  • Mar 25, 2009
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 in the film. Amy (Jena Malone), Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Eric (Shawn Ashmore) and Stacy (Laura Ramsey) are on the last leg of their vacation in Mexico. They end up meeting and befriending Mathias (Joe Anderson), a fellow traveller who's looking for someone to join him on an excursion to find his brother who happens to be working on a dig at a mysterious Mayan pyramid.

Despite Amy's resistance, the group (including another traveller, Dmitri) head off to look for Mathias' brother. What they find is a hesitant taxi driver who only agrees to drive them for most of their journey after being given a heavy tip. When the driver goes as far as he feels safe enough to travel, he drops them off in the jungle. The group hoofs it to the pyramid and quickly find themselves surrounded by a jumpy group of natives who are packing pistols, bows and arrows.

Despite trying to tell the natives why they are there, the group is shot at and forced up to the top of the pyramid for reasons I don't want to reveal (and aren't clear until later in the film). At this point, the story becomes a tale of survival and emotional anguish, both of which are fueled by the unique enemy that awaits them in the pyramid.

This film is based on a novel of the same name by Scott Smith. Having not read that book, I cannot honestly say how closely the film follows the original story.

What I can tell you is that this movie manages to give the viewer a relatively decent group of heroes to pull for. This is a nice twist for horror films that feature young college-aged characters. Most of the time, I'm happy to watch the bad guys off characters since most of them are unlikeable in the first place. While one character does receive enough attention to make it rather easy to determine who survives, there's a genuine sorrow in seeing some of the characters meet their demise in this film.

The film isn't all that scary, but does offer up a nice helping of gore. The CGI is a bit heavy in certain parts of the film, making it a hard to accept what is happening on the screen. There's also a brief bit of nudity and some suggestive content, but nothing as excessive as most films in this genre contain.

Overall, the film shoots itself in the foot by having all of the action limited to one area. While this works well in other films, the enemy in this film's limited range hinders the story's overall pacing. I can easily see how this would work much better in book form, where character and creature development can be fleshed out, but the constraints of film keep this movie from being anything more than a three star flick.

Recommended to fans of gore, creature features and films that feature a decent bit of suspense. I wouldn't necessarily call this film a keeper, but it is worth at least a couple of viewings.

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October 26, 2010
I'm sorry that I can't give you any ratings right now, but for some reason I can't give anybody any. I've complained to the powers that be about it. I doubt that this movie could ever grow on me. I even saw it a second time (both times on tv for free) and it only got worse.
October 27, 2010
No problem about the ratings. I prefer comments myself. Thanks for reading my review!
October 31, 2010
Yay! They fixed it! Now I can comment AND VOTE!
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 . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Not Exactly A
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 …
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 …
About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #16
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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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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