Monday, March 28, 2011

The Ruins (2008)

The Ruins

Written by Scott B. Smith
Directed by Carter Smith

Jeff...Jonathan Tucker
Amy...Jena Malone
Eric...Shawn Ashmore
Stacy...Laura Ramsey
Mathias...Joe Anderson

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.

Rated R
90 Minutes
United States



  1. Yeah, this one was a let down....
    Perhaps I'll take your advice and check out the book.

  2. I realllllly enjoyed this one a few years back. Not a classic, but just a brutal and surprising theatrical horror film that felt really refreshing. I read the book a few weeks after seeing it and sure, it does go much deeper, but I think as adaptions go, The Ruins worked for me. That also solidifies my theory to always wait on the book until after the movie, particularly for the horror genre!

  3. Hey, saw your comments on my site about The Ruins and just wanted to pop in.

    Your criticisms are valid and I heard other people who read the book say the same things. As you probably guessed, I never read the book, so I didn't have that on my mind while watching it. The thing about plot points happening to different characters, I figured that was to keep readers of the book on their toes.

    I think the performances were what sold me on it, they were much better than what we usually get from your average creature-feature.

    Btw, LOVE your header pic! Satan's Little Helper FTW!!!

  4. I hated the book. It was just boring.


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