What’s better incentive than 94 degree heat for seeing a movie in an air-conditioned theater? Well, it sure wasn’t the promise of seeing another overly gory, one-note horror film. We had one of those random early heat waves we get now thanks to Global Warming.
“The Ruins” is exactly why most horror movies suck these days. It’s like they’re all half-written and whatever holes need filling, are filled with over-blown scenes of pointless gore. And they even take the fun out of it by being as serious and realistic as possible. You remember the Friday the 13th movies. You could almost see the rubber prosthetic neck when the arrow pushed through it. We used to hoot and howl along with that stuff. Even when George Romero/Tom Savini did the ground-breaking zombie gore, there was an element of cheesiness. It was fun. Now, everyone wants the torture gore of “Saw”, “Hostel” and “The Hills Have Eyes” remake. Shocking me isn’t scary. It’s just shocking. It has no real emotional substance.
The screenplay for this movie was written by the author of the book. You’d think that would be a good thing, right? Maybe he went to the Stephen King School of Adapting Books to Film? Yeah, even Frank Darabont couldn’t save this.
Four twenty-something’s are vacationing in Mexico and decide to help some German guy find his brother at this unmapped Mayan-like temple in the jungle. But when they get there, some natives to the area are pretty insistent that the tourists go up to the top of the temple and stay there. “Insistent”, as defined by shooting one of them in the face causing his head to explode. Then they all camp out at the bottom of the temple to keep these tourists from leaving.
Said tourists scurry up to the top of the vine-covered temple. It’s a very lush covering of vines; very, very lush. At the top they find the opening of the temple that goes down into the darkness- and that lush vine covering everything. They hear a cell phone ring down in the dark hole, and the German guy wants to go down because that’s his brother’s cell phone ringing. The others send him down, then the rope breaks, and as one might expect, things go from bad to worse.
Big Fat Spoilers (if you haven’t guessed): The trailer for this thing makes you think there are these serpent-like creatures in there. Nope. Sure is a crap load of that lush vine around, though. It’s everywhere, dammit. And it seems to move… What?! No ancient curses, no Mayan undead, no creepy snakes or worms, just a carnivorous vine with pretty red flowers that mimic sounds! Wait, what?! No way. Uh, yes way.
This movie starts out ok, with some promise of building these characters. But then it relies completely on the blood and gore to keep you interested. There’s a very unnecessarily graphic amputation of legs and various scenes of digging things out from under people’s skin. But by then, the story’s over. You’re in what appears to be the third act but it’s really just a continuation of the second without any more development. This leads tediously to what may be the lamest ending EVER, but only because it’s so…uninspired.
They could have done so much more here. Tell us more about this plant whose flowers can simulate cell phone ring tones, go down inside the temple more, have Freddie Krueger or Jason Voorhees show up. Hell, have someone run through the theater beating audience members with a lead pipe. Show footage of the director and producers being beaten with a lead pipe. Please!
Screw this movie. Just go rent “The Descent”.
—Neil T. Weakley, movie goer.