Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Ruins (2008)

The Ruins Would Make any Vegan Cringe...

The Ruins has killer plants and a band of blood-thirsty Mexican natives who create an ordeal of death, suffering and impromptu amputation surgery.

The Ruins (2008) Horror Movie Poster
For the most part, killer plants are not my thing. Okay, I thought that comedy about the giant venus fly trap was fun, but as a rule… no.

The Ruins certainly has the killer plant thing, but with an edge. This film is not so much about the plants as killers as about the devastating effect the killer plants have on those trapped by them. This I can work with.

The Ruins launches on a very positive note – a group of young folks are on vacation in Mexico and having the time of their lives. Sex, booze, sun and surf – about as much fun as four people can possibly have. As the vacation draws to an end an opportunity arises to visit an ancient pyramid of the Mayans. Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), the pre-med student of the group, convinces the others that this is an opportunity of a lifetime that must not be passed up. So, off they go.

The Ruins (2008) Jenna Malone Happy on the Beach

Once the happy campers arrive at the ruins the trouble starts. A band of locals surround them, wielding bows and arrows as well as guns. There is a definite language barrier but one thing is clear – the locals forbid the campers to leave the vicinity of the pyramid ruins and rejoin society. Why, are they rebels? Do they intend to rob the young tourists? There is no evidence of such foul play, but… when one of the hikers throws a handful of plant matter from the base of the ruins and it hits a young boy, the native mob quickly slays the boy. So… its contact with the plants that renders one an undesirable.

The Ruins (2008) The Mayan Pyramid

The would-be archeologists are left to fend for themselves at the top of the pyramid ruins with no means of escape and flesh-eating vines surrounding them. Survival and sanity are both commodities hard to come by as these ill-prepared youngsters search for answers… and for that damn cell phone that they hear ringing from the bottom of a dark pit.

The Ruins is, in a word, great. Well, that may be a bit exuberant... let's say very good. The characters are good, the situations are dire and the gore is surprisingly effective considering the foe is a plant with leaves that closely resemble cannabis. The best part of horror is rarely the strength of the villain but rather the actions The Ruins (2008) Peering Down The Pitof the would-be heroes as they teeter on the brink of sanity and desperation. The fact that there is no hockey-mask wearing psycho on the loose means that the film must be carried by the victims and hero-hopefuls, and that is exactly what happens.

Not to say that the villain does not have some frightening personality traits of its own. Sure, these are plants… but not your garden-variety. Just as the shark in Jaws was more predatory slasher than natural wildlife, these green meanies have blood on their minds. Thankfully, this element is portrayed without any goofy animations of toothy foliage stamping around proclaiming “Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum”… This vicious vegetation can move better than most senior citizens, but still manages to remain “plant like” in demeanor. None of the effects (with the possible exception of a singular scene of singing flowers…) goes outside the realm of believability which is quite a feat in a “killer plant” flick.

The Ruins (2008) Bloody Scream, "I Have Plants In Me!"The Ruins is, from beginning to end, creepy and disturbing horror that will raze every terror-response a horror freak could enjoys. Neither Jason Voorhees nor Michael Myers, after all, can get inside your skin and crawl around as your friends try to divert their disgusted eyes to avoid freaking you out.

The Ruins is ultimately not a horror film about killer plants, but rather about the desperate actions and measures taken by folks in a horrific situation. That, in my opinion, is one of the scariest prospects of all.


  1. I read 'The Ruins' book while we were stuck in San Antonio, TX. during a hurricane evacuation and wasn't scared--BUT, I WAS intrigued and wanted to see what they did with the movie. I felt like the movie was just okay, but that may have been because I kept being thrown off by the MAJOR changes the movie made. The movie didn't scare me either---tho I WANTED it to cuz I love the concept. I dunno why neither medium worked for me. Did u read the book?

  2. To be honest i didnt even know it was a book. I'll look out for it though. Wait you were evacuated for a hurricane??
    Yea the concept was cool but it wasnt as effective as i hoped. The Happening was scarier and that movie was s**t!!

  3. :) I took a pic of my friend laying on the ground with a house plant "attacking" her shortly after I saw the film. It was pretty funny-I need to find that pic.
    and yeah--After Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, there was Hurricane Rita a month later that went straight to Houston. ALL of Houston freaked out and left when the evacuation was suggested-I think everybody was just FREAKED out by what happend in New Orleans tho, cuz I've never seen that kind of mass exodus before. The traffic out of the city was beyond shocking. It took me 3 hours to get from my apartment to my parents house(a drive that actually takes 20 minutes),and it took 13 hours to go to San Antonio(usually takes 3 hours). Everyone left at once and there were points where I turned the car off and put it in park-traffic was that bad. People were running out of gas on the freeway and buying cans of gas from people walking on the road for like 10 times the regular price. ---but what happend in New Orleans couldn't happen here since we don't have levees that could break and release massive amounts of water into the city--its too far from the ocean. BUT we all freaked anyway-especially since it took FOUR days for the government to send help to Katrina victims and so many died.
    U should look up pics of the traffic on-line--it's a sight to see.