The Ruins (2008)
Based on Scott Smith’s 2006 novel The Ruins, this horror gives you something slightly different to the excessive gore and bloodshed we’ve come to accept as a Hollywood norm these days.
Having read (and loved) The Day Of The Triffids only a few months prior to watching this for the first time, it was not a surprise that I was more than game to see the film that was described to me as “The Day Of The Triffids meets Cabin Fever.”
Though I haven’t read the book, I’m told that it doesn’t stray much from the plot, bar a few obvious changes such as the location, though this is hardly surprising news given that Smith wrote the screenplay himself. So, it goes a little something like this: Whilst on holiday in Mexico, a group of American friends, Amy (Jena Malone), Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Stacy (Laura Ramsey) and Eric (Shawn Ashmore), meet up with a fellow traveler and go in search of the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple. Not long after arriving at the scene, the troupe are surrounded by a group of Mayan villagers, none of whom speech English and all of which are carrying some serious heat. Instantly their fellow traveler is dead and they are forced to climb up the ruins as their only means of escape. Trapped atop of the creeper-covered ruins, they hear a mobile phone inside a well that goes deep into the ruins and construct some apparatus to go in search of it. Before long, they discover that all is not what it seems on the ruins and it’s not only the Mayan villagers that they need to be wary of.
The Ruins is definitely not your average horror film and though whilst it clings on to a few of the stereotypical plot arcs, cheating girlfriends and the like, it uses some pretty interesting techiques to keep the viewer guessing. It even had me in disbelief at points, as the story began to unravel. At points it was quite hard to watch (there is some amputation), but I literally could not tear myself away from the screen- except for when I was rolling my eyes at the idiocy of Amy.
The characters are young, relatable and likeable enough, though not particularly well explored. The location is beautiful and I definitely think Smith made the right decision to change the setting from a hill to the mysterious Mayan ruins. The use of camerawork is also very good, really pushing to keep the audience intrigued and building up a get sense of dread and suspense. Whilst it may not be the best horror film of that year, it certainly makes a refreshing change from rehashed sequels and horror romance.
Trailer sourced from YouTube