The Ruins Unrated

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The “Face” poster they put on the DVD was nominated for a Golden Trailer award. It is a cool image, but as a poster and as a DVD cover, it does not capture the feel of the movie. The menu has some vine action going on, so they made an effort, but they also put some clips from the movie in there too which is a drag. People, do not put clips from the movie on the menu…please.

Features: 6/10

  • Making Of – Interviews with the director, producer, and cast. They talk about how the book became the movie, how they picked the cast, and other standard “making of” fodder.
  • Creeping Death – How they made the killer plant. It’s pretty thorough and shows how much work goes into the smallest details when you have the guy who created the hobbits world in Lord of the Rings on the case.
  • Building The Ruins – How they made the on location set and made it look real with a combination of CGI, in camera, and trick of the eye methods.
  • Deleted Scenes With Commentary By Director & Editor – These include a couple of other endings, an alternate and the original theatrical version. A couple of scenes are best left out for sure, they would have added some relief for the long suffering 20-somethings in their horrific vacation experience, and we don’t want that.
  • Theatrical Trailer – It’s a trailer.

Movie: 8/10
I like bloody creepy movies. I don’t like ALL bloody creepy movies. There’s not an easy way to categorize each one, but it’s becoming more and more clear as the years come and go and people try to change the “Horror” genre with new and inventive ways to torture the human body and/or mind.

In my younger days I would say the more blood the better. I watched Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Exorcist, and then later Nightmare on Elm Street, and more. There were a lot of others, cheaper, bloodier, lower quality. They were all good to me. I liked the gore, the crazier the better.

That was then, then is now. I have seen a boatload of blood fest movies. Those older ones are still good (in my mind) but now I’ve got a different approach. The Ruins is typical but it’s trying not to be typical. You know what I mean?

It’s based on a book by the author who wrote A Simple Plan. This tells me right away that this will be a tale about the human mind, how people under pressure, in an extreme situation will react. Correct. That’s interesting enough to get past the 20’s giggling, jiggling, being manufactured young people on vacation, most of the time.

This story starts at a hotel in Mexico with two couples who are about to finish their vacation when a stranger comes around offering to take them to a remote uncharted archeological dig at some ruins in the jungle. Of course they go…who wouldn’t? I’m going on vacation to a tropical spot this week and I’m hoping some stranger comes up to offer me a cheap hostile, trip to a cool party spot, or remote historical landmark. Don’t worry, I’ll leave a trail of bread crumbs.

So, the stranger comes, they go. They are driven eleven miles into the jungle and then hike a ways to find a very cool Mayan temple left to nature many centuries ago. As they trek through the brush one person casually mentions that the Mayan’s died from some mysterious disease. Ok, let’s explore that. No? Fine.

Very quickly we are introduced to some locals. They ride in on frightened horses welding guns and shouting in a language no one understands. They make it VERY clear that they don’t want anything to do with the very lush plant growing all over the temple, and so it goes.

Up the pyramid to escape the guns and the locals, some of our youthful travelers have touched the plant. This whole sequence didn’t capture me enough really. It was kind of quick and awkward and by the time they rush up the temple to find the lost brother of the stranger who enticed them to come with him we are supposed to be afraid of the gun people and the plant. I think we are supposed to feel isolated and alone and like it’s already a desperate situation, but I didn’t. That kind or hurt my bubble of fantasy I need to be in for some movies.

There is a shaft that the archeologist was using to go down into the temple, so our people have to go down in there…why? Well, a cell phone was ringing. Even though none of them had a signal they truly believed that a cell phone would be working down a long dark hole in the ground. Fair enough.

Down the hole, people get hurt, tension runs high and the blood begins to flow, slowly at first. I won’t divulge who gets hurt or falls prey to “the plant”. I bet you can guess from the following descriptions.

There is the medical student who’s strong and takes on the leadership role. There is the surfer type guy with curly blond hair and a general whiney attitude. One young woman is sensible and kind of weak who didn’t want to go to the ruins at all. One young woman is blond, sexy, and more adventurous. If you can’t guess I’ll say one thing, the blond actress has a chance to do a lot of pain induced performing and she’s really really good at it.

Even though the vine plant thing is the bad guy of the story, it’s the internal struggles they go through that cause the the most damage. It’s a fair turn around on the genre. There’s no demon warrior or slasher in the jungle baiting a trap for innocent strays. I’m not telling you anything you can’t see on the poster and DVD.

Referring to the older flicks again in which there is always a human or spirit or mystic force at work with the blood letting, I like a solid bad guy scenario and an explanation (i.e. the mysterious disease that killed the Mayans), but I give credit to stories that try to stretch our minds a bit and give us other things to be afraid of, not that I was afraid. That would take a whole other kind of movie, preferably with zombies or the a re-watch of The Devil’s Rejects. I did recoil a bit at The Ruins with some of the medical procedures and knife use that took place.

This isn’t an innovative movie and it’s not clever or even that memorable, but if you do what I did and just decide to go along for the ride it is kind of fun. I can’t deny, I like the level of gore, not too much, not too little and NEVER hidden…very cool.

Video & Audio: (By Ascully) 8/10
The Opening scene of The Ruins takes place inside a cave with virtually no light at all, the movie started with this scene and I thought to myself, “well this isn’t going to be a showcase movie for Blu-Ray if we can hardly see what’s going on”. Fortunately the rest of the movie takes place in broad daylight and the image does not disappoint. The Ruins is a interesting movie visually and the DVD & Blu-Ray editions both showcase the bloody visual feast in great detail.

Audio is presented in Dolby 5.1 for the DVD release and the superior Dolby 5.1 TrueHD on the Blu-Ray version, both sound awesome as the movie has quite a lot of activity in the subwoofer and surround speakers. One of the main reasons The Ruins soundtrack works as well as it does is its reliance on ambient sounds at all times in the movie this really enhances the “Creep Factor” and keeps you involved in the movie even during some scenes that are not really at the top of the genre.

Value: 7/10
This DVD/Blu-Ray is a great weekend flick to pick up with some others like Cabin Fever and Final Destination. I don’t need it on my movie shelf, but I think it’s definitely worth the time and a couple bucks to get a bit of bloody goodness on a Saturday night.

Overall Score 7/10