Review by Jack Foley
INEPT horror movie The Ruins stems from the same literary mind [Scott Smith] that created the intelligent morality tale A Simple Plan (which was turned into a cracking movie by Sam Raimi).
Sadly, that same expertise has not been applied here. The film follows two American couples, Jeff and Amy (Jonathan Tucker and Jena Malone) and Eric and Stacy (Shawn Ashmore and Laura Ramsey), as they agree to travel with their new German friend Mathias (Joe Anderson) into the Mexican jungle to look for an archaeological dig that’s been freshly discovered by his brother.
Once there, they find themselves trapped by local villagers and left to the mercy of the sinister vines (yes, you read that correctly) surrounding the ancient temple, which soon place their sanity and lives in peril.
The Vines could have emerged as a fun B-movie style horror had it not taken itself so seriously. Instead, Carter Smith’s film is a tedious and unnecessarily nasty experience that prolongs its weedy premise to an almost unbearable length.
Much of the blame lies with the novelist himself , who has adapted his own material and tried to make things more shocking. Rather, it just feels plain exploitative. Laura Ramsey feels particularly short-changed, being forced to strip at any opportunity, and then rounding things off with some grotesque self-mutilation.
But none of the actors emerge with much dignity, especially when the story begins to strain credibility to incorporate non-sterile amputations and vines that mimic human sounds.
The ending, too, panders to the Hollywood need for hope and doesn’t even stay loyal to Smith’s own source material.
Hence, what begins as yet another tale of backpackers in peril (a la Paradise Lost and Wolf Creek) quickly turns into something more akin to Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever, without displaying the horror smarts of any of those films. It’s little wonder that Hollywood is opting to do so many remakes if this is the best they can come up with as original.
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: October 13, 2008