Directed By: Carter Smith
Starring: Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone, Jonathan Tucker
Tag line: "Terror has evolved"
Trivia: Director Carter Smith had just purchased a copy of the Scott B. Smith novel and started reading it when he got the phone call offering him the film adaptation
Killer sharks. Monstrous grizzly bears. Angry birds. If there’s one thing horror films has taught us over the years, it’s that nature can’t be trusted. Whether by land, sea, or air, the natural world is filled with dangers that threaten our safety on a daily basis. And as 2008’s The Ruins points out, we can’t even trust the damn plants!
While vacationing in Mexico, four young Americans; Amy (Jena Malone), Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Eric (Shawn Ashmore), and Stacy (Laura Ramsey), meet up with a German tourist named Mathias (Joe Anderson), whose brother, Heinrich, set off into the jungle with an archaeological expedition and hasn’t been heard from since. Guided by a hand-drawn map, the five, along with Mathias’ friend, Dimitri (Dimitri Baveas), make their way through the jungle in search of an ancient Mayan temple, which is where Heinrich and his team were headed. But when they finally reach their destination, the six are attacked by a local militia, who kill Dimitri and send the others scrambling to the top of the vine-covered temple for safety. As the militia stands guard below, the friends begin to realize there’s something strange about the surrounding vines, which move on their own accord, mimic sounds, and seem to be closing in on them.
For those of you who aren’t convinced killer vines can be scary, rest assured that The Ruins brings a bit more to the table than carnivorous plant life. Along with the tension and in-fighting that arises as the group search for a solution to their dilemma, there’s also a strong feeling of claustrophobia, which only gets stronger as the vines close in. And the discovery that the plants can duplicate certain sounds (including that of a ringing cell phone) leads to even more chaos and confusion. But the terror in The Ruins is more than psychological, as we discover when the vines start burrowing their way into a few unfortunate characters, some of whom go so far as to cut themselves in an attempt to remove the unwanted foliage (the film even features a gruesome amputation scene).
A successful combination of suspense and gore, The Ruins is a much better horror movie than its premise would have you believe.