The Ruins may not ruin your day, but it won't uplift it eith
Steven Hedge | Somewhere "East of Eden" | 04/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This rather bleak film is actually well acted, but not well paced and has an ending that is fairly predictable based upon how the story boxes itself in early.
The story is about two couples who get caught up into checking out some ancient Mayan ruins meet up with some weeds that have incredible abilities. We get enough background on the characters to care about them and it helps that they are all rather appealing even if somewhat flawed. They are refreshing nice young adults who are not the stereotypes we've been seeing in horror films lately. Their interactions with each other are very believable.
They discover an old temple/pyramid and hike into up and into it to discover that the locals will not let them leave it for fear of spreading what lurks in the ruins. This is a clever low-budget way of keeping the action in one or two locations (on top of the ruins and in the ruins), however, it also greatly limits the direction the story can go in and, thus, makes it predictable. There is a generous amount of old fashioned horror bloodshed and very brief nudity that is not gratuitous in any way (for a change). The violence is of the strong R variety and definitely not for the faint of heart. The effects are minimal, but good as is the make up which is quite graphic.
This movie is certainly not all it could have been and borrows heavily from better films like The Descent, The Day of the Triffids, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but it is very nicely acted by young people we do care about and there is enough in the tissue paper thin plot to keep us interested for it's brief 90 minutes. There is adequate suspense, but it is often ruined, pun intended, by the director's focus on the grisly stuff rather than leaving a bit more to our imagination.
I had some fun with this film, my nearly sixteen year old son less so, but it isn't as bad as some think, but it certainly isn't as good as others think as well. It is simply an okay film and with some of its jarring images, it isn't easily forgotten."
Good thing I'm not into gardening
Monkdude | Hampton, Virginia | 04/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I never read the novel, but The Ruins is a worthy horror film for those with a strong stomach. There are two really disturbing scenes that put Hostel to shame and the camera doesn't shy away. I can't imagine what they cut out for the Unrated DVD (which you know is coming), but it probably isn't much. The cast is good overall (especially Laura Ramsey in a chilling performance) and there were only a couple of times when I sat shaking my head at the stupid things they said or did. A couple of times is not bad when compared to most horror films, besides it comes with the territory.
My only gripe is that the "creature" isn't shown enough (much like Cloverfield) which can add to the suspense, but by the end of the film I was hoping to see or learn just a little more about it.
All in all, The Ruins is one of the most shocking horror films I have seen in quite some time and worth a trip to the theater."
I loved the book but the new ending ruins "The Ruins" for me
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I both read Scott Smith's "The Ruins)" two summers back when it came out, which is why she did not go to the theater this afternoon to see the movie version. Previously she has left me sitting alone in the movie theater during showings of "Snakes on a Plane" and "Planet Terror," and I am pretty sure that there is some sort of third strike rule here that I need to stay clear of (for the record, she walked out of parts of "The Passion of the Christ" too, but she went with her mother and I was the chauffer and therefore not on a date). So I returned from seeing the opening showing of "The Ruins" this afternoon, and reported to her that yes, indeed, the scenes that she did not want to see and in the movie, so we was wise to stay eating popcorn in bed and watching episode after episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," because she would have fled the theater. Then she asked how the movie was, and I told her in one concise sentence was happens at the end. She frowned and said, "So they ruined it."
Down in Mexico on Yucatan peninsula a pair of American couples are nearing the end of their vacation. We have Jeff (Jonathan Tucker) and Amy (Jena Malone), along with Eric (Shawn Ashmore) and Stacy (Laura Ramsey). They meet up Mathias (Joe Anderson) and his friend Dimitri (Dimitri Baveas). Mathias is trying to track down his brother, who is working on an archeological dig in the area. The idea of seeing an ancient Mayan ruin that is not some sort of tourist trap is intriguing so they find a local taxi pickup truck and head out into the jungle. Once there they find the path to the ruin, but as soon as they touch the bottom step a group of Mayans show up brandishing guns and other weapons, demanding that the visitors keep going the direction they are going and not return. Once atop the ruins, the group is trapped. Then things get worse.
Reading the novel will tell you most of what happens in this movie, but in adapting his screenplay to the screen, Smith has decided to switch who things happen to in this version of the tale. Maybe this is just to surprise his readers, and maybe it is because some of these people look better in their underwear than others. I cannot say that these changes hurt the story, because they do not. Trying to cut out pieces of an insidious vine invading your body or doing major surgery with a rock and a knife is always going to make me cringe, and I have to think many people will feel the same way. The problem with most of the film is that why all of the choice parts of the novel remain, albeit somewhat recast, most of the connecting tissue has had to be excised to get this film in at 91 minutes. That means that one of the key aspects of the novel, the fact that these people are trapped for several days in the hot sun with next to nothing for food and water, is fast forwarded through in the movie. One of the things that made the novel effective was that you had a real sense for how these people were spending hours not doing anything but living in fear. Then every time they actually tried doing something, it only tended to make things worse. All of that is essentially lost in this movie, which is where we lose the first star.
It is the ending that costs "The Ruins" a second star. Yes, Smith wrote the screenplay, so it would seem that the finger of blame should be pointed in his direction, but I have seen way too many alternative endings (and multiple alternative endings), so I am well aware that directors and studios do not care about how good a book or a script is, they only care about what the test results tell them to think. Because this is the sort of ending that a test audience might like, but only because they did not read the book and they have no appreciation for what makes a great ending in a horror film. What allows hyperbolic copywriters to claim that "The Ruins" is the greatest horror novel of the 21st century (good to know that it is all downhill for the next 92 years) is that the ending of the book drives home the final nail in the coffin. When this movie gets to what is essentially the same final scene as the book, the context is all different because of one massively monumental and stupid change. That final shot is now rendered superfluous."
Where's the Weed-B-Gone??
Allen Chapman | STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT USA | 04/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I went into "The Ruins" not really having any idea what it was about. It just looked interesting from the previews. The basic premise is a group of American twenty-somethings are on vacation in Mexico and on their last day decide to go see these ancient ruins that are not part of the normal tourist attractions. Once they get there things start going wrong, then they get worse. The suspence is held thruout the movie. There is a major element of the story that you just have to accept and once you do you're all set to enjoy the movie.
My fear was that "The Ruins" would be like "Touristas" or "The Cave", it is like neither of these. It's more like "Hostel" in that the people don't really do anything overly stupid to get them into the situation they are in.
Those who have read the book have complained about the ending. I didn't think it was a bad ending at all. I haven't read the book, but the end shown makes sense and leaves the viewer basically knowing what is going to happen next without it being shown.
If the movie teaches you nothing, it teaches you that if you go on vacation bring along some Weed-B-Gone, you never know when it will come in handy!!!"