The Ruins (2008)
Director: Carter Smith
A group of fresh faced teens learn the HARD WAY that the LAST THING you want to do when kicking it in Mexico is visit some Ancient Mayan temple that’s not on the map. Again…the LAST THING… and…THE HARD WAY
We're being quarantined here. We're being kept
here to die. – Amy
Now, all I knew about THE RUINS before entering the theatre was that it had to do with killer vines or some shite and that there was a hot blonde in it that got my blood flowing. Now that I’ve seen it and got my skull severely stomped, I know a bit more. It’s a film adaptation of Scott B. Smith's book (he also wrote A Simple Plan) of the same name. Scott’s novel was released in 2006 and he actually penned the screenplay for this adaptation as well. And that hot (and talented) blonde in the movie? Well her name is Laura Ramsey. Don’t forget it! I know I won’t after this movie!
THE RUINS started off like so many other horror films that came before it. Tweens boozing it up and lusting left and right until some shady duder invites them on a trek to a “not so well hidden” hidden Mayan Temple. Up to that point, the affair was all right, nothing ground breaking apart from its refreshing slow burn pace and Laura Ramsey’s “don’t blink cause its worth it” nude scene. But once the ride kicked into high gear, I got severely mash potatoed by it. All you needed was a T Bone steak and I was motherf*cking DONE! Yup, nothing could’ve prepped me for the mucho wincing and squirming jamboree that I went through with this puppy! DAMN! Talk about gory, graphic and unapologetically mean spirited! You’d think the movie was on the rag! That’s how cruel it was! From that point on, I was totally imbued within the happenings. Tension was running high, chills were working me good and anticipation as to how it would all end was KILLING ME!
A big “hookers on me” props to the lead actors in the film! Even though the script didn’t run as far as it could’ve in terms of characterization and its shades of Lord of the Flies; the bang on performances on hand made sure to give me a group to be concerned about. The players wound up being defined by their reactions to the ordeal and the meat that the actors brought to them. Good shite! Jonathan Tucker and Laura Ramsey in particular really brought it home with gusto! The former WAS intensity in a bottle and the latter gave out a fearless show that mucho impressed me. Tag to all that, striking imagery by director Carter Smith, fairly tight visual effects (them flowers… brrr) and a stand out score by Graeme Revell and you get a bitter genre bon-bon that exceeded my expectations. I was back-handed like a pay or play bitch who got paid but won’t play i.e. got smacked hard.
Any negatives to spit out? A couple. I’m not usually the type of dude that needs a back-story as to the evil in a horror film, but here I craved at least a hint of info on them sneaky buggers f*cking with these poor schleps. You know the whole “what” and “why”? I mean what are they getting out of this aside from a free meal? My main peeve with this bad boy though was that it sported at least 3 grating dumb character moves to serve the plot. Thoughts like: “Throw the bushes at them!” - “Get that poor guy away from the vines already!” or “You got booze and fire – USE THEM!” kept ringing in my hollow noggin. Some stuff felt contrived and no “cover one’s ass” line of dialogue managed to fix that. Finally was it me or did it all end abruptly? Either way, I kept waiting for the set up for the sequel – it never came.
All in all, in a year of SHUTTER (remake) and the upcoming “man I don’t want to see it but I have to” PROM NIGHT cash-in, I truly got off on THE RUINS. It could’ve been just “vacuous teens vs. macabre circumstances” but it managed to go beyond that by wearing its testies on its sleeve and packing quite the jaw destroying jab. I was totally ruined by THE RUINS!
Man did it get messy in this abbatoir! We get a blown off head (with so-so CG behind it), arrow damage (no not in the head), bullet wounds, a stabbing, chopped off legs, grisly self mutilation, icky buggers getting under peeps’ skin and more! What a toughie!
Jonathan Tucker (Jeff) just earned more stripes! As the clock ticked forward, his body movements and his expressive eyes said all that needed to be said. Now that’s what I call acting for the camera! Jena Malone (Amy) was on fire as per usual. Shawn Ashmore (Eric) had the least interesting role, but his eventual “Swayze in Point Break” look kept me sold. Laura Ramsey (Stacy) was a revelation here! Her courageous display resulted in a part/actress to remember. I expect big things for her in the near future. And when I say big things, I mean big things…ZIPPPPP (that was a joke)! Joe Anderson (Mathias) was efficient in what he had to do. Dug the accent!
T & A
The ladies will be in a tizzy to know that it was all about fit dudes showing off them 6 packs. But fear not guys, cause Laura Ramsey made sure to give us what we deserve via the countless shots of her in her undies and her quick-fix naked bit. Everybody’s happy!
Armed with a potent cinematographer, Carter Smith slapped out arresting visuals (not much hand-held here – lots of tripod - it worked for this film). He also had a firm grasp on momentum and tension. NOTE: Any man that lingers on Laura Ramsey’s butt via close/cam shots has my respect.
Graeme Revell (who created one of the best soundtracks of all time – The Crow) delivered a spooky, grim and involving score.
THE RUINS reminded me of CABIN FEVER without the humor and the movie references. Think a bleak situational horror film that took itself very seriously. I respected how it superseded its semi stocks-characters and déjà vu set up to uppercut me with a visceral chain of events and unflinching punishment onto its heroes. Sure the whole could’ve had more meat to it and it did cheat now and again via having the heroes overlook all kinds of options. But at the end of the neck snap, I was owned hardcore byTHE RUINS. It was the equivalent of a genre sucker punch and in this day of pussy-fied horror, I was all for the love tap! What a rough way to start the day! THE RUINS PART 2 PLEASE!
Actor Ben Stiller co produced the film.
Laura Ramsey was in two other horror films: The Covenant and he underrated Venom.
Teh film was shot in Australia, even though it was set in Mexico (I smell Tax Credit break).
THE RUINS OFFICIAL SITE HERE