"The Ruins" stacks up as an inferior "Cabin Fever," sharing a lot in common with that now-classic Eli Roth film. It doesn't have a similarly dark sense of humor, however -- in fact, it doesn't have any sense of humor at all, which is the film's main problem.
A group of college students on vacation in Mexico run into a German traveler who tells them about Mayan ruins that are not included on any tourist map. Some of his other friends have headed out there to do some excavating and he invites his new American buddies to join him on a trip out there.
Naturally, when they hire a cab to head out there, the driver warns them not to go to those ruins. But they bribe him to take them there anyway. When they arrive, at a vine-covered pyramid, they are surrounded by non-English speaking natives who shoot to kill any one of them that tries to get off the pyamid. In fact, they do shoot one of them -- blowing his head off after spearing him with an arrow. The group climbs to the top, where there are signs of the previous group's tent and even the sound of their cel phone ringing in a dark pit -- but no sign of the campers.
Unable to get off the pyramid, because the villagers are standing guard ready to shoot any one of them that leaves, they learn the terrible truth of their predicament. The plant life on the pyramid is alive and consumes any human being that dies on the structure. Making matters worse, the plant life can also enter the body of someone and "infect" them -- a la Eli Roth's "Cabin Fever."
To make matters even worse, they are running out of food and water, have no cel phone, and one of their party has broken his back and needs his legs amputated to survive. Luckily, one of the college students is pre-med and ready and willing to amputate infected limbs.
Yeah, sounds bad. To make it sound even worse, the plant life speaks to them, emulating their screams and cel phone noises. Very "Little Shop of Horrors."
But "The Ruins" isn't as bad as it sounds. The cast plays it well and makes it believable. It's a fairly entertaining thriller that does draw you in and it's only after you've left the theater that you realize just how totally, utterly ludicrous the movie really is. And, as I said earlier, it also takes itself way, way too seriously even though, at the end of the day, it's a movie about a singing, killing vine.
Author Scott B. Smith, who wrote the novel and screenplay for Sam Raimi's "A Simple Plan," adapted his own novel for this.
This movie reminded me of Cabin Fever (infected college kids), The Descent (danger in the cave), and Turistas (killer villagers). The Ruins wasn't bad, good amount of bloodshed, but yeah it does take itself way too seriously.
Posted by Bob on March 9, 2009
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