Gosh golly but I love this movie. I love everything about this movie. Even the poster hearkens back to the covers of those good ol’ 70s/80s drugstore paperback horror novels, stuff like The Nest or Slime, the stuff I devoured when I wasn’t parked in front of a movie (incidentally, if you remember/love/have those kindsa novels, Paperbacks From Hell is well worth your consideration).
Probably no accident there since The Ruins is a 2006 novel by Scott Smith. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s for sure on the list. Anyways, the movie follows standard plot development: young tourists seek off-the-beaten-path experience and discover much more than they bargained for or can adequately deal with. In this case, they are lured by a fellow traveler with the promise of an outta the way Mayan pyramid. Well who could resist?
In this case (very minor spoiler if you’re paying attention to the poster art), the “more” that they didn’t bargain for is entirely plant-based. Sounds groovy, sure, but it ain’t nearly as healthy as it seems as the plants are carnivorous. And to an extent mobile. And kinda clever. Kinda like Day Of The Triffids meets Evil Dead meets Matango. What can I say? If you know, you know. Lettuce just leaf it at that.
It might be worth pointing out how many of The 13 Rules Of Horror our intrepid yutes in fact break. The cardinal one is always #1 People Are Stupid which more often than not leads to the ignoring of any following rules. A close second, then, would probably be City Folk Don’t Belong In The Woods. These are college kids traipsing around in the backwoods of where ever. They are out of their element.
Whether it’s the crazy old guy, the owner of the shop/gas station/diner on the edge of nowhere (it’s not the end of civilization but you can see it from here), the villagers, The Locals Know What They’re Talking About. The problem is Nobody. Ever. Listens.
Often have I contemplated making my own short wherein a buncha yutes stop by one of these joints, and a guy says, “Up there? No you don’t wanna take these girls up there,” and one of the girls looks up the road and says, “Know what? He’s right. I don’t wanna go up there. Take me the fuck home.”
Nobody is ever ready for the fact that Technology Is Not Your Ally. Not only are their phones useless in The Ruins, they even get used against them. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t explain this no further. Just watch. It’s a jaw-dropper.
Similarly, nobody seems to remember or realize much less accept that God Does Not Love Or Care About You. If he/she/it/they did, people in horror movies probably wouldn’t be in most of the situations they end up in, unless said god is contemptuous of stupidity in which case these dingbats deserve everything they get.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to suggest The Ruins is another totally predictable run of the mill exercise in plot development. You might say it’s in my, uh, Top Tree? There may not be a whole lotta surprises in that arena, but that minor shortcoming is more than made up for in yelling, screaming, conflict, tension, self mutilation, and assorted bloody, gory, almost sadistic fun. Keep your eye on Stacy in particular.
There are two endings, and both are variations on the “oh this ain’t over” theme. Neither one is terribly surprising, and each leads to a gratifying full-circle conclusion. But I’m gonna go, well, out on a limb and submit that one of them has wwwaaayyy more satisfying implications like movies along the lines of Bite, Life, “The Lonseome Death Of Jordy Verrill.” The Stuff, or Stung. You might even say it’s…de-vine?
BODIES- 7 onscreen 1 off
Stream- Paramount+, Prime
Rent- Google Play, Prime, Vudu, YouTube