Do not read this review if you don’t want to have the movie ruined for you. I cannot possibly explain how stupid The Ruins was without revealing everything.
I heard good things about this movie, and I’m sad to report that those claims were fallacious. From beginning to end, I thought this movie was completely stupid. The story itself may have worked in a pulp fiction rag, but on screen it’s just plain silly.
The story starts out will eye-rolling redundancy. We’ve all seen this set-up before. Two couples go on vacation (this time somewhere in Mexico), and meet a charming foreigner who they buddy up with and trust for no good reason. Turns out this foreigner, a German named Mathias, is on a search for his brother, who, with only a crummy map to guide him, came to Mexico in search of some treasure which may or may not have even been there. So the dumb Americans come along to hike the trails that the map leads them on, and look for this lost German who they have no reason to be concerned about. Of course, none of this happens before we’re given other reasons to hate our protagonists, most of which have to do with hedonistic and adulterous debauchery. Nonetheless, we are expected to feel bad for these gringos whenever they meet their bloody and inevitable ends. The search party finds exactly what the map is leading them to, a smallish Mayan temple in the middle of the jungle. Some natives bum-rush the search party, forcing them to run up to the top of the temple. Strangely, this is the extent of the natives’ involvement. They simply hold the tourists at gun point, and do not allow them to leave. Now I’ll admit, I did want to know why. I first assumed that the natives were preparing some sort of ritual sacrifice, and I wasn’t exactly wrong. It’s really more like they were offering up the tourists in order to keep a horrible epidemic from spreading. An epidemic of KILLER PLANTS. That’s right. This temple is filled with sentient vines that will eat you. How sentient? So sentient that they can vibrate their pistols and stamens to replicate the sounds of cell phones ringing, girls screaming, and creepy whispers. So sentient that they can sense the presence of an open wound to crawl into. Now about that last thing, if you love horror movies for gore and gore alone, you might actually enjoy this flick. They gore is there, it just isn’t very thoughtful. You’ll get to see a young lady attempt to cut those invasive vines right back out of her legs, back, and forehead. You’ll also see some pretty plants turn a human body into a pile of partially digested mush, but not before you’ll see two stupid white boys cut a guys infected legs off and cauterize the stumps with a frying pan. Once again, the logic in you should prevent you from feeling bad for these people, who make one bad decision after another.
Ultimately, The Ruins really doesn’t suffer from issues of production quality. The effects are pretty good, and even the CG looks half decent. It can’t be easy to create realistic plant movement, but whoever was in charge of the graphics in this film did a pretty good job of it. The acting was about as good as you’d expect for a horror film of this budget level, and some of the actors were even recognizable (Jena Malone, and Rory Culkin). The big problem is that the overall concept was just plain stupid. The script was poorly written, and the corny dialogue did nothing to smooth over the lack of common sense that these characters were given. This movie is a nanner!