Tuesday, July 15, 2008


(this is the second time i've written about this film. here's the first.)

I recently said about another film what I’ll say here about THE RUINS: I have waited years for this! Considering the themes of the two films I have so heralded, it appears I have an odd affinity for things that devour people. Not to mention, I’m also quite big on vampires, werewolves and zombies. So whether we’re talking revenge-toothed vaginas, classic man-eaters of yore, or these Mayan plants sucking skin off young bones like watermelon fresh from the rind, this skinny boy feasts on them all. The all-you-can-eat buffet style horror flick: it’s my own personal genre.

There are too many good things to say about THE RUINS. Far too many. Here’s just a few tantalizing morsels:

- THE RUINS is filmed almost entirely in broad daylight. Pray tell - what could possibly happen at noon:thirty scary enough to inspire a whole horror film? Sunbathed nightmares are quite a feat, but it works like a charm.

- The killer here is a plant. A freaking plant! And not some Audrey II swoonin’ Rick Moranis Broadway sucker – these things are diabolical. They think. They plan. They devise schemes to turn friends and lovers into monsters. They mock their victims’ voices, laughing at their escape attempts. These pretty little flowers are some bad ass botanical effers.

- Dude, anything Mayan is freaking freaky. They’ve got those huge rock faces and cryptic prophetic calendars, and they were way smarter than everybody before anybody was smart enough to know they were even there. In THE RUINS, the Mayans have some mystical understanding with these plants, a holy fear that holds the Mayans to the land but away from the ruins. As a rule, I don’t jive with folks who jive with killer plants. Call me close-minded, it’s just one of my deal-breakers.

- I loved, loved, loved Jena Malone in SAVED. Then her lead in THE RUINS blows anything Jamie Lee Curtis ever attempted in horror out of a top story window. Jena Malone made me hate her despicable RUINS’ character, but still hope for her safe escape. The girl is wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully brilliant.

- Scott Smith, author of the novel THE RUINS, wrote the screenplay for the film – yet, they are completely different stories. I finished the novel yesterday morning; then I watched the film a second time last night. The book is ten times gorier than the film, plus the psychological terror runs deeper in the book. However, (and I realize this is a complete contradiction) I still think the film’s storytelling is more compelling, shocking, and disturbing than the book. I recommend starting the novel around page 200, once the travelers have found the ruins. The last three hundred pages are a bloody fun ride. The film, of course, receives my highest recommendation.

- There is a very pretty girl in this film named Stacy. Stacy’s fate is, hands down, the craziest, nastiest, nightmarish thing a hypochondriac like me could imagine. If you ever fear what may lurk beneath your own skin – Stacy’s story is for you. I mean, holy crap, dude.

THE RUINS is definitely one of my top three favorite films of 2008. I easily give it 5 stripped clean watermelon rinds out of 5. I freakin’ love it.


John Barber said...

I've been to Blockbuster twice this week, and the shelves have been RUINS-free. I'll get it this weekend for sure!

John Barber said...

I finally got my hands on a copy of THE RUINS. I'll watch it this weekend and let you know...

John Barber said...

*There are a bunch of spoilers here*

Ok. I gave this a spin this afternoon while Janna and Benji were napping. First of all, let me concur with you that the film has a major advantage over the novel - brevity. The lengthy prologue is cut down and the action is far more concise. However, there are some things that I think don't work as well as in the written version.

1) They switched the Stacy and Eric characters - in the book it's him that gets the vine all inside him. I think I liked that better. Not a big deal, though.

2) The length of time they were on the ruin in the book seems much longer. Food and water are of a much greater concern, and the hope that is generated when it rains is a nice counterpoint to the hopelessness of the rest of the story.

3) Since they kill the Greek dude off earlier, Mathias doesn't get to be the outsider affecting the other two relationships. That seemed to be changed for no good reason.

When you saw it in the theater, does Jena Malone get away? On the "Unrated" edition I rented, the ending is far more deadly and fun.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. Cutting off Mathias' legs was wicked awesome. I also liked them shooting the kid. Good stuff.

3 creeping vines out of 5.