April 6, 2008


Adapted and considerably reworked by Scott Smith from his own highly regarded horror novel and directed by Carter Smith (no relation I’m guessing, to each other or Alan Smithee), The Ruins concerns an ill fated trip to an archeological dig by four college students on vacation in Mexico. To say too much about what awaits them at the Mayan ruins they arrive at would be unfair to those with an interest in the film, but suffice to say the threat is genuinely creepy (not to mention crawly) and plays on fears of contamination and bodily invasion by parasites and insects and the like. Once they make it to the ruins, the movie’s good at immediately establishing fear, unease and tension, which it more or less sustains for the rest of its lean 90 minute running time. A good amount of the horror in the movie is generated by what the characters end up doing to themselves and each other, to the point where you might think the movie is actually about the horrors of improvised surgery. The Ruins made me cringe and squirm in my seat like no other film I’ve seen in recent memory in any case, and Laura Ramsey deserves special credit for a particularly harrowing performance depicting an agonizing physical and mental dissolution. A couple of things work against the movie, however, one being Amy, played by Jena Malone, who is a capable and appealing actress saddled with a whiny and annoying character. The other is the disappointing ending, which is unsatisfying and not particularly believable. The Ruins is by no means a great horror movie, but it is a pretty good, often highly effective one for the most part.


(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)


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