Now this is a little bit embarrassing for me to admit, but I have not watched this movie since I bought it. I don’t mean that I watched it when I bought it and haven’t watched it since, but that I haven’t watched it all. See, a few years ago, I bought a couple of movies at MovieStop when they had a sale and I watched all of them but did not get around to this one. Over the course of time, I just honestly forgot to watch it. Bear in mind, the only reason I bought this movie in the first place was because it was recommended to me, not because I actually wanted to see it. Poor excuse all around I know, but let’s put that aside as I finally manage to watch today’s movie, The Ruins.
The plot: A woman is huddling in the dark, screaming for help as she tries to get a signal on her phone when something suddenly grabs her. Some time later, 2 couples (Jeff, Amy, Eric, and Stacy) are vacationing in Mexico when they meet Mathias, a German tourist who is there with his brother Heinrich. When Mathias mentions his brother had gone to an archaeological dig with a girl he met and is late getting back, the two couples agree to go with him to find Heinrich. The next morning, Jeff, Eric, and Stacy are getting ready to go but Amy is reluctant to go, partially due to being hungover and partially from guilt in kissing Mathias while she was drunk the night before, but Jeff convinces her to come. The group, along with their guide Dimitri, take a bus to the outskirts of the jungle and then try to get a taxi to take them close to where the ruins are but the driver refuses at first until they pay him. Reaching the spot on the map, they find Heinrich’s jeep and start making their way through the trail and when they come to a stream, they find that the trail has been covered for some reason. The eventually reach a vine covered temple but before they can explore them, some men appear out of the jungle and start yelling at the group. Jeff and Mathias try to explain that they are there looking for Mathias’ brother but the men don’t seem to understand them. When Amy tries to take the men’s picture, she steps on some of the vines and the men get violent and start pointing at her. Thinking they are upset about the camera, Dimitri goes to get the camera from Amy and give it to the men but he is shot with an arrow before having he head blown off. The group run up the temple steps as more men emerge from the jungle and surround the temple, leaving them no choice but to climb to the top. When they reach the top, they find the remains of a camp and Heinrich’s body covered in vines. With no way to call for help, the group worries about what to do when they suddenly hear a ringing coming from a shaft leading down into the temple. Mathias recognizes the ring as Heinrich’s phone and they use the rope from the dig to try and lower Mathias down into the shaft so he can find it but the rope breaks and he ends up falling. Hearing him moaning in pain, Stacy volunteers to go down the shaft to see how badly he is injured but the rope is now too short so she is forced to jump the rest of the way. Stacy injures her knee but lets them know that Mathias is alive but appears to have broken his back. Jeff recommends cutting up one of the tents to make a longer rope while they use the backpacks to make a back brace for him but Amy want to try and plead with the men at the base of the temple for help. Amy makes her way down, with Jeff chasing after her, and tries pleading with the men but to no avail. Frustrated, she throws a clump of vines at them and it strikes a young boy and the villagers all recoil in horror from the boy and start yelling at him, motioning for him to climb the temple, and when he refuses, they kill him. Jeff and Amy head back up the temple and realize that their touching the vines is what scared the villagers and forced them up the temple. Amy rides the makeshift brace down the shaft and helps Stacy lift Mathias onto the brace so Jeff and Eric can pull them up. When they are all on the surface, Jeff does his best to help Mathias and they all go to sleep for the night. The next morning, Stacy finds a vine wrapped around her injured leg and as she screams for help in getting it off, Eric and Jeff help her. When Amy checks on Mathias, she finds the vines have wrapped around both of his legs and she yells for Jeff to help her and Eric realizes that the vines’ spores are on all of their clothes. Hearing the phone ringing again, Amy and Stacy are lowered down into the shaft to try and find it and realize it is coming from a vine-covered chamber. Looking around inside, they find the body of the archaeologist and a broken phone. When they hear the ringing again, Amy realizes it is coming from the flowers of the vines. She touches one of them and the vines attack her and Stacy and they barely make it back to the rope so Jeff and Eric can pull them up. As Amy and Stacy tell them what happened, they realize that the vines are predatory. When Jeff notices that the flesh from Mathias’ lower legs have been eaten away, he tells them that he is going to have to amputate his legs in order to save his life. Eric doesn’t want to do it and wants to put it to a vote but Mathias tells Jeff to go ahead and do it and with Eric’s help, Jeff amputates both of Mathias’ legs. That night, Jeff heads down to the base of the temple and walks around, noticing how the villagers have set up their camps and keep watch on him. Meanwhile, Amy is upset about everything and Eric tries to comfort her outside the tent. Stacy hears moaning and exits the tent and accuses Eric and Amy of having sex but they both deny it. When Jeff returns, Stacy continues arguing about what happened and while everyone tries to calm her down, they don’t notice the vines approaching Mathias and choking him to death by going down his throat. Jeff finally notices and pulls the vines from Mathias and they hear the flowers mimicking their words from the argument. The next morning, Jeff and Amy are observing the villagers when Eric gets them and brings them back to the tent. Eric tells Stacy to show them and she turns around and lifts her shirt to reveal the vines moving beneath her skin. Jeff proceeds to cut her leg and remove a clump of vines from her leg, then her back, but when Stacy complains that they are in her head, Jeff refuses to cut her anymore. They all decide to get some rest but Stacy exits the tent and goes looking through the rest of the camp and finds another knife. When Eric and the others notice her gone from the tent, the discover Stacy has repeatedly cut herself trying to remove imagined vines from her body. Jeff tries to take the knife from her but she flails about and cuts him with it. When Eric tries to reason with her, Stacy stabs him in the chest and as he collapses, she comes to her senses and apologizes for killing him. As the vines begin to drag Eric away, Stacy pleads with Amy and Jeff to kill her and Jeff reluctantly grabs the knife from Eric’s body before it disappears and does so. Jeff then covers Amy in Stacy’s blood and tells her to head to the jeeps and if ti doesn’t start, to keep running and head for the village. Jeff then carries Amy down the temple and lays her down on the ground, then starts walking away from it. As he starts talking to the villagers, while leading them away from her body, he yells out her name and she gets up and starts running as the villagers shoot Jeff with arrows. As the villagers chase after Amy, their leader approaches the mortally wounded Jeff and executes him with a gunshot to the head. Amy manages to make it to the jeep and is able to drive away but as she approaches the main road, it is shown that the vines are growing in her face. Meanwhile, Dimitri’s two friends, who had passed out on the beach and he left a map for them to follow, have arrived at the temple and start calling out his name looking for him.
The Ruins received mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 48% review on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Despite a solid cast and truly frightening source material, The Ruins flounders, thanks to a weak script and an excess of gore.” While Scott B Smith wrote both the novel and the screenplay, the deaths of the characters were all changed in the two mediums. For the movie itself, several endings were shot, including one where the flowering vines are shown to be springing up from Amy’s grave, and director Carter Smith went with the ending test audiences had the best reaction too. The movie was a mild box office hit, earning $22.3 million off of an $8 million budget.
A killer plant movie. Been a while since I have seen one of these. Anyways, all things considered this was a pretty decent horror movie. The acting was good, with the main cast doing a good job of projecting a sense of helplessness and desperation as the face the prospect of certain death, either from the vines or the villagers at the base of the temple. The story was pretty interesting, as you never really got a sense of who the killer was in the trailers, but the killer plant was an interesting idea, especially the part where the flowers can vibrate and mimic human speech. The director did a good job in ratcheting up the tensions and terror in the movie right up to the finale. I don’t know how much difference there was between the unrated version I have and the theatrical version but I have to say that the gore factor in this movie was a bit of an overkill at times, especially the part where Stacy is peeling the skin off her own leg. The special effects were pretty minimal but they did do a good job with the plants and how they moved and acted. Might not be the most believable horror movie but it can be good for some scares on a dark night.
Rating: 3 out of 5