Friday, June 06, 2008

"The Ruins" review

The Ruins (2008)

Director: Carter Smith
Writers: Scott B. Smith

Jonathan Tucker ... Jeff McIntire
Jena Malone ... Amy
Laura Ramsey ... Stacy
Shawn Ashmore ... Eric
Joe Anderson ... Mathias
Sergio Calderón ... Lead Mayan

A bunch of fun loving tourists decide to break away from the pack and do something adventurous while vacationing in Mexico. This line of thinking always spells doom for tourists in horror flicks. They hear that there’s a ruin that the tour guides won’t take you to. It never crosses their minds as to why they won’t take them there, just that there’s an old ruin to explore. Once they find it, the natives won’t let them leave. The ruin doesn’t want them to leave either...
“The Ruins” has a standard horror movie set up that I thought was going to lead somewhere interesting. I was hoping for something monstrously evil to be waiting for them in the bowels of the ruins. I’m sorry to tell you that the only thing waiting for the wayward tourists is killer shrubbery. Yes, the vines on the ruins are carnivorous and want to lure idiotic tourists to their death. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with killer plants before but “The Ruins” treats us to every gory possibility that this monster has to offer. In fact, you might even say that “The Ruins” truly encompasses the intersection between Hollywood and Vine. HAHAHAHA! Oh man, (wiping tears away), I’ve been waiting to use that line ever since I saw this movie.

I will give “The Ruins” some points for its generous helpings of gore. Vines start crawling towards the tourist’s wounded bodies with alarming regularity. As they spend their days and nights fighting off vines at the ruin, they start to snap under the pressure.
*SPOILER ALERT* The scene where the med student amputates the guys legs was particularly disgusting. That was a true orgy of gore. It made me wince with joy.*END SPOILER*

“The Ruins” is trying to be a psychological horror flick as we watch this group of friends crack under vine-filled pressure. It does deliver some good gore scenes and some decent suspense when they are crawling around the belly of the ruins.

But overall I didn’t feel that there was a sufficient payoff with this movie. I’m a big monster fan and proud of it. There should have been some sort of beast that the vines were attached to. I needed one to be waiting in those ruins. Instead I got a lot of hungry plants.

Why couldn’t they have burned the plants? Poisoned them? Whipped out the weed whacker? Break out the lawnmower? Show those weeds who’s boss of these ruins. Letting plants get the better of you is a sorry way to die in a horror flick. But getting your head ripped off and then thrown down the steps of the ruins by a slobbering beast, now that’s how a man wants to go out.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 killer weeds


catpaw said...

You know, I thought the same thing when I read the book this movie is based on. I kept saying why don't they just get a flipping flame thrower and torch the damned plant. And while they are at it flame throw the whining moaning bitching complaining tourists too. I lost patience with the book and left it on the subway - and thought hope the damn plant eats the lot of them
Didn't bother with the film cause I hated the characters so much.

Greg B. said...

I thought the gore and the vines under the skin were fucking horrific. The rest was horrific for different reasons.

[J] said...
Why didn't the group just burn the vines?

After seeing the movie, many viewers have suggested that the group should have used their liquor to burn the vines. Outside of the obvious fact that, if they burned down all the vines, it wouldn't have been much of a movie, several reasons have been suggested as to why such a plan would not have worked. First of all, green plants don't burn. They need to be dried out before they can catch fire. Second, the group didn't have the resources to start a fire large enough to burn all the plants inside and surrounding the temple. Third, when Amy and Stacy were down in the shaft, the vines grabbed the torches out of their hands with no problem. The fire didn't hurt them. Fourth, even if they somehow set the vines ablaze, they'd probably be engulfed by the flames. If they tried to escape, the Mayans would probably kill them anyway. Fifth, the plants would grow back quickly, just as it grows on their clothes in a matter of hours. Trying to burn all the vines in the area just wasn't a viable plan. Napalm, Agent Orange, or even plain old Roundup might have done the trick, but the group wasn't carrying any of that stuff.

[J] said...

Why didn't the natives burn down the vines?

Who is to say that they hadn't already tried and been unsuccessful at it?

At any rate, fire isn't the be-all/end-all solution for getting rid of unwanted plants. For example, bamboo can be burned right down to the ground year after year and still come back. Jack pine requires fire to open its cones so that the seeds can get out, so fire is actually beneficial for helping the plant to spread. Native prairies relied on occasional fires to sustain the native plants and destroy invading weeds and trees. In rural areas, controlled burning is often used in the fall to burn down standing weeds in ditches along the road or in fields so that uncontrolled fires can't spread through the countryside. Next spring, all those plants come back as usual.

In the case of the vines, burning them might not have stopped them, and the natives might already have figured this out. The vines were growing everywhere, including deep down underground in the shaft. Even if the surface vines could have been burned down, it's likely that the underground plants would simply resurface.

Dr. Gore ( said...


I am humbled before your knowledge of plants. I wouldn't dream of arguing against you on this subject. But surely there must be a way to kill plants. How about a pesticide? Why not have a crop duster turn the ruin into a vat of plant poison? Admittingly, the group may not have had all the tools necessary for plant eradiction but I think someone could've figured out what to do with the homicidal ruin. At any rate, I was hoping for more than blood thirsty vines in the ruin but vines we got. Lots of vines.

JJFlash said...

"I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with killer plants before but “The Ruins” treats us to every gory possibility that this monster has to offer."
Oh yeah? How about "Little Shop of Horrors"? How about "Day of the Triffids? How about "The Navy vs. the Night Monsters"? You, Sir, need to brush up on your herbology. Other than that, fine review. "Vine and Hollywood" cracked me up.

Dr. Gore said...

Oh yeah. Forgot about "Little Shop of Horrors". The other two I haven't seen. I may need a refresher course in killer kudzu.