Every genre of horror has been tapped; whether it’s the serial killer hunting you down or the spooky haunted house, every area of the world that could be frightening has been long since explored. There is one area, however, that hasn’t been as oversaturated with movies as other genres and that’s what The Ruins attempts to tackle. Despite the plot revolving around a previously undisturbed Mayan ruin, the real beasty in this feature is…wait for it…the plants surrounding the temple! Are you scared yet? You should be, if you’re about to sit down and watch the film, that is.
After a relaxing vacation, a group of tight-knit college students decide to spend their last day looking at the ancient Mayan ruins. Getting word of a previously uncharted Mayan temple, the gang goes out with a guide who shows them to the spot, but it isn’t long before members of their group start to die. Natives are refusing to allow them to come back off of the temple and soon the group discovers why: the plants belonging to this temple are alive and are slowly devouring its victims by playing with their heads and engulfing their bodies in their vines.
I think I’ve realized why I dislike the horror genre so much. It’s not that I’m afraid of jumping out of my seat, it’s because there is such a high concentration of absolute crap in the genre that I’m more afraid of wasting my time than wetting my pants. I’m consistently reminded why I don’t enjoy horror films when I watch films about killer crocodiles or killer plants that are possessed by some satanic evil. Have you ever noticed that horror films rarely have any big name talent in them? The last horror movie that actually was both scary and featured someone that wasn’t from failed TV shows that I can recall was The Sixth Sense. We need some more Oscar-caliber horror stories that not only scare the crap out of people but also really pack in a solid story and acting.
Horror rant aside and the fact that the plot of this movie is incredibly stupid, I was more disappointed with the pacing of the film more than anything. It was nearly a full hour into the film (it only runs and hour and a half) before we even got to see the big baddie and at that point I was so bored with hearing our four main college students bicker with one another that I stopped caring about the story altogether. By the time we found out that the plants in the temple were alive, I was both unimpressed and wishing that it would just end.
The films biggest problem was the real lack of scary in the film. Sure there was some gore, but hardly anything to really disturb anyone; it only got kind of difficult to watch when one of the college students started cutting herself to get the plants out of her body and then she just started stabbing everyone. It was just about the only scene in the entire film worth watching (unless you count the early scene in the film where the same girl was walking around naked, but that alone isn’t worth checking the film out for…unless you’re twelve and really desperate) and certainly wasn’t worth spending the other hour and a half on.
I will say that while the actors were your usual low-profile fare, I did at least know of three of the main actors in the film. Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone and Shawn Ashmore all stood out to me as people I had previously seen (I actually assumed it was Brian Ashmore, Shawn’s twin brother who is on Smallville, at first…but it actually turned out to be Shawn of X-Men fame instead) in other films or televisions shows…and they were ones that I enjoyed. So at first I went into the film with an open mind, thinking that maybe this trio could help the film perform admirably, but…no dice. It just pulled off the same level of stupid as other low-budget horror films.
I’ve often called out critics who get their name on the boxes of these DVD or Blu-ray releases and while it may seem petty or even unprofessional to do so…I really have to wonder if bloody-disgusting.com ever gives a horror film a bad review, as they’re on almost every horror film that I end up disliking. Granted I think they were on Halloween (the Rob Zombie remake) as well, which I did enjoy slightly, so that may just be me throwing venom from disliking this film and wondering how anyone did like it.
Overall The Ruins can easily be Skipped. The real problem with the film is that it takes itself seriously and when it comes to killer plants, that isn’t something you can believably do most of the time. There’s no B-level horror style comedy here either…it’s all played straight and that really hinders the film from even being enjoyable on a superficial level.
The Ruins: Unrated (which, by the way, is a whole two minutes of extra footage and having not seen the original, I can’t comment on what’s new) arrives in a standard Blu-ray case with an insert telling you to update your players firmware and the disc itself, coated in the same gray wash that Paramount titles are known for. Menus for the set are simple and easy to navigate through.
The 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer for the film looks fantastic and the exotic locations for the film really pop. The visuals were certainly a treat, but there wasn’t a whole lot here that will really astound you. The accompanying 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is also impressive, making full use of the surrounds, especially when the plants start talking and mimicking our cast. I think I was more interested in the sounds emitting from the surround channels than what the characters were burping out in the front channel (which was always clear and distinct).
Moving onto the extras, all of which are in high-definition, we first hit upon “Making The Ruins” (14:23), which takes us on the usual tour of the sets and features interviews with cast and crew. “Creeping Death” (15:04) talks about the making of the wicked plants in the film and “Building The Ruins” (6:18) covers the sets of the film. A series of deleted scenes (11:55) are included as well and include commentary by director Carter Smith, where. Also included is the Theatrical Trailer for the film.
Finally there’s the film commentary with Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt. It’s a slightly interesting track, but there isn’t a whole lot here to take away; they talk about how it was all made and what went into constructing the sets and they covered the basic corners that a commentary track should. Unfortunately, as interesting as these guys got sometimes, they just weren’t worth listening to since you had to watch the film a second time.
Overall this release can be Skipped. Nothing special here and just another worthless horror movie to add to the pile.
The Ruins is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.