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Awesome: 16.07%
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6 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Ruins, The
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by Jason Whyte

"Get thee to a copy of Apocalypto immediately!"
1 stars

Note: I have tried dancing around spoilers in this review and believe that I have succeeded, although anyone brave enough to try this movie would do better to read this after viewing the film.

Just a hair under a decade ago, I viewed Sam Raimi’s masterpiece “A Simple Plan”, a movie based on a novel by Scott B. Smith about a case full of money that is found by a few small town locals and the tragedy that ensues. It is a film that I have seen several times and have always been awestruck by the dialogue and surprises in the story turns. Another Smith novel, The Ruins, has been adapted for the screen and I’m not sure if it is just a bad book or a poor adaptation, but the film “The Ruins” is a hollow and scare-free waste of time.

The premise has interest. Four good looking college students named Stacy (Laura Ramsey), Eric (Shawn Ashmore), Amy (Jena Malone) and Jeff (Jonathan Tucker) are on their spring break in Mexico. While relaxing by the hotel pool, they meet a personable German tourist named Mathias (Joe Anderson) who invites them along to a pyramid in the jungle that has recently been unearthed. Mathias has such great social skills that he is able to woo four people along with him into the middle of nowhere in Mexico.

Now before you think that Mathias is a serial killer, it turns out that he isn’t. Once they arrive at the pyramid, a group of locals confront them at gunpoint and force them to stay at the top of the pyramid. If they leave, they will be executed on the spot. The reason is not clear at this point, but they have little water and food to keep them healthy for more than a day or so.

I was incredibly annoyed at how “The Ruins” deflates so quickly after a “jolt” cut involving a dog in the back of a taxi. It quickly goes from an atmosphere picture into one that tired tradition of brain-dead decisions. Once they are on top of the pyramid, our leads hear a ringing cell phone at the bottom of the inside walls and Mathias goes in to find it, mere minutes after they are at the top. Little realizing that the rope to bring them down is centuries old, Mathias falls and breaks his back, cueing a series of lousy arguments, bizarre decisions and the discovery of what is really at that pyramid that is forcing them to stay there.

I can understand characters in horror movies doing silly things, but the lengths that the leads in “The Ruins” go to are something else. Take, for example, the constant cries of “We will be found!” and “By this time tomorrow they will come looking for us” made by the protagonists. Well, if you’re stuck at the top of a Mayan temple that is surrounded by soldiers with guns keeping them at the top, any help will end right as they get to the pyramid.

Later, Mathias is injured and has to have his legs amputated. At this point it is well known to these characters what the cause is of the horrors of this temple, yet they leave Mathias well within capability to let him be killed off. The whole movie is plagued with silly moments like this that take you out of the movie.

The biggest problem of “The Ruins” is not much really happens in the 92 minute running time. The film is slow, plodding and so argument heavy that it really stirs the patience after a while. It doesn’t help that the four lead characters are bland and lifeless, and while the actors try their best (Laura Ramsey, who has a nice nude scene about ten minutes into the film, will most likely get the most attention from this) they are weighed down by their hammy dialogue and a stupid decision at every turn. Carter Smith’s direction is serviceable if a bit bland, however he has the great cinematographer Darius Khondji (who recently lensed “Sweeney Todd”) that is fine as always.

I am unsure if Scott’s book is so meandering and filled with jaw-dropping dialogue (“Raise your hands if you want to cut his legs” is something I never thought I’d ever hear in a movie, but there you go), and “The Ruins” doesn’t even look like an adaptation at all. In many reviews of this film I have read of the comparisons to “The Descent”, which I find rather ludicrous. I would love for the characters of “The Descent” to be placed within this movie and have them fight their way out of the situation. Hardly anyone made it out of that cave in “The Descent”, yet at least they tried. Here, the characters wine and make so many silly decisions that you really don’t care if they live or die past the next reel.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17079&reviewer=350
originally posted: 04/09/08 13:22:45
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell not bad would like to read the book 4 stars
12/08/15 Luis Bernardo It isn't The Descent , but, it scared the hell out of me and it scared Stephen King! 4 stars
10/15/15 David Hollingsworth Intense, disturbing, and squirm-inducing 5 stars
5/11/10 bronson Great movie. Great characters 4 stars
5/30/09 art this film isn't for wimp's! 3 stars
4/25/09 matt well-acted, but unintentionally hilarious and un-scary 3 stars
1/06/09 FrankNFurter Killer flowers.That's right...better for comedy than horror.My venus flytrap is scarier! 2 stars
8/10/08 George Barksdale Average horror movie 3 stars
7/28/08 Dave This review is right on - great movie! 5 stars
7/18/08 Shaun Wallner Killer Weed!! My kind of movie! 5 stars
7/13/08 action movie fan college kids menaced by flesh eating vines-unique shocker that works 4 stars
7/11/08 VMANIC1 Movie makers of today just REFUSE to make a movie that has a definite ending. 3 stars
6/03/08 Priscilla Postlethwaite Audrey, eat your heart out!!!! 3 stars
4/22/08 Quigley The book was better, which doesn't say much. Definitely not what it could have been. 3 stars
4/15/08 Servo You guys are crazy. This movie was horror greatness. Better than the book even! 4 stars
4/11/08 Colleen Cousineau Typical book movie. 4 stars
4/08/08 shaw avoid this movie 2 stars
4/06/08 Esther Schwartz Good, but ... the book was better. 4 stars
4/04/08 Ron20003 No characters. No explainations. No thrills! 1 stars
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  04-Apr-2008 (R)
  DVD: 08-Jul-2008



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Carter Smith

Written by
  Scott Smith

  Jonathan Tucker
  Laura Ramsey
  Jena Malone
  Shawn Ashmore

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