Written by Scott B. Smith
Directed by Carter Smith
Four American tourists vacationing in Mexico, and their two recently-acquired foreign compatriots (one a German and one a Greek), head into the jungle in search of adventure at the site of an ancient Mayan temple. They get more than they bargain for when, upon their arrival, they are held at bay by an army of Mayans armed with firearms and longbows. They are held prisoner at the ruins. No, more than that. They are quarantined, although they can not understand why.
It doesn't take long for them to realize that the Mayans are not their biggest threats at the ruins. The hill upon which they are stranded is covered with a mysterious vine, which moves at its own volition--and that's the least of the tricks it has in its bag.
Forget Audrey II. This vine is a real man-eater.
Jeff is the leader of the group, the proverbial boy scout with a talent for survivalism. His girlfriend is Amy, who gets a little on the slutty side when she drinks. Her best friend Stacy is the good girl, perhaps a little flaky. Her boyfriend Eric is the scruffy goofball who always has a wiseass comment to add to any conversation. Mathias is the German, who invites them all on this journey. And Dimitri is the Greek who...well, doesn't speak a lick of English, and so we don't know a damn thing about him.
These six conflicting personalities should have been more on display once the shit hit the fan, showcasing how quickly people can turn against each other in stressful situations. Unfortunately, this is only touched upon and never played up to full effect.
In fact, that's my general complaint about the entire film. Nothing was played up to full effect--the relationships, the stress of the situation, the horror, the feeling of complete isolation--only the gruesome scenes of amateur surgery lived up to their potential. Everything else came up short.
It is quite possible that I'm being overly critical of the movie because I had finished reading the book upon which it was based only days before seeing it. The book, being over 500 pages long, had the ability to take its time, build up the tension, give the characters--and the readers--a chance to get used to the (let's face it) generally ridiculous nature of the plot. Films are always hard-pressed to live up to their written counterparts, as they have to jump more quickly into the story and work with the limitations and the strengths of the medium.
What I absolutely could not get past, however, is how drastically things are changed from the book to the film. I understand that certain plot points had to be edited out for time. What I don't understand is why every single major event that takes place in the book happens to a different character in the movie. It seemed pointless to me, and, as a reader of the novel, more of a distraction than anything else.
If you've seen the movie but haven't read the book, I suggest you do so. If you've read the book but haven't seen the movie? I suggest you just read the book again.