The Ruins Film Review - And Then There Was One

It’s not something you would expect from Ben Stiller, Trish Hoffman, Red Hour, Spy glass Entertainment or even of Dreamworks, but together with Stuart Cornfeld, Jeremy Kramer and Chris Bender, they produced this horror film, while predictable, nevertheless will give you the creeps in more ways than one.  Director Carter Smith has taken Scott Smith’s book/screenplay, The Ruins, and gone wild with it.

Ruins Film Review Director Carter Smith


Amy ( Jena Malone) is a devil-may-care girl vacationing with her boyfriend, Jeff ( Jonathan Tucker) a medical student; best friend Stacy ( Laura Ramsey), who is slightly more level headed, at least in the beginning, and her boyfriend, Eric ( Shawn Ashmore).  To Amy, the trip is endless beaches and tropical drinks.  Costumes designed by Lizzy Gardiner gives you the impression of a teen beach movie, very laid back.

It’s their last day of vacation and the kids team up with German tourist Mathias ( Joe Anderson) who is searching for his brother.  The brother, an amateur archeologist, disappeared while searching for a Mayan ruin, and Mathias just happens to have the map.  Their Greek friend Dimitri ( Dimitri Baveas) treks along for the fun.

The fact that the locals did not want to take the kids to the area where the ruins were should have told them something, but being kids and believing they were indestructible, they continued on.

Ruins Film Review - Amy's picture causes problems.


The first sighting of the ruins is a magnificent stone structure ( Darius Khondji – DP) overgrown with a strange flowering plant.  As the team approaches it, they find themselves locked in by locals who are determined not to let the teens escape from their destinies – to be sacrifices to the living plant and keeping the plant in its place.  After one of them is shot, the youngsters are forced up the hill to the top of the ruins, where they discover the brother's tent and camping supplies, but no brother. 

ruins film review - going down to rescue


Their phones have stopped working, and yet… they hear a ringing down in the dig.  Assuming it is the brother’s phone that has been dropped, they go down after it.  First is Mathias, who ends up breaking his back and needing to be carried up, then Stacy and finally Amy as the girls soon discover not only is there no phone but the plant itself is making the sounds to attract them and apparently feeds of living flesh.

ruins film review - eaten alive


As the horror continues, the character of each teenager changes and becomes more definite.  Amy becomes more grounded as they battle for survival.  Everyone looks to Jeff for answers – after all, he’s going to be a doctor – but there is only so much he can do to hold the plant at bay after it devours Mathias and then works on Stacy.  Meanwhile, the natives below have taken precautions so that no one leaves the ruins for fear that the man eating ivy will spread. 

We have no real idea of how the vines came to be, only that they are.  This is not Little Shop of Horrors eating plant, but something far more sinister. 

Visual and audio effects, especially as the vines grab their tasty leg sandwich from Mathias, were designed by Patrick Tatopoulous and Grant Major ( Greg McMurry supervising).   Prosthetics (designed by Jason Baird) are used since a majority of the gore happens in daylight and unlike traditional horror, you can’t be tricked by the lights and shadows. 

Ruins Film Review - Eric holds a dying Stacy


On a jump scale, the film is a 9.  The music, by Graeme Revell, didn’t help my nerves. Yes, I jumped quite a bit because so much of the familiar became unfamiliar and even though you expected things to happen, the ugh gore factor (an 8) really made the horror of the moment come to life. 

Ruins Film Review - Jeff watches the natives plotting


Rated R for strong violence and gruesome images, language and some sexuality and nudity, it is nevertheless a great horror film, as far as these things go.  You go to be scared, and with this film, as edited by Jeff Betancourt, you are.  I think I’m going to ask my husband to water the tomatoes.

For more information, please go to www.ruinsmovie.com

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