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.
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.
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 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 of 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 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.