I went into this film with low expectations. I hadn’t heard much about this film when it was out in theaters and what I did hear wasn’t good. The Ruins surprised me by being actually pretty good. No, it’s better than that, it is good. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of a few of the actors and some fan boy bleed off may be occurring. But even looking past how Jonathan Tucker did fantastic in The Black Donnellys or Jena Malone, someone I somehow managed to watch over half their filmography and didn’t notice, and even past how Joe Anderson kicked ass as Max Carrigan in Across the Universe. I would argue that The Ruins is still a good film.
Jeff (Jonathan Tucker) Amy (Jena Malone), and Eric (Shawn Ashmore) and Stacey(Laura Ramsey) are two American couple on vacation in Mexico. They meet German tourist Heinrich (Joe Anderson) and after befriending them offers to bring him to some ruins he and his brother had heard about from a female archaeologist. Heinrich’s brother went with her the day before. The next day they, along with Heinrich’s friend Dimitri (Dimitri Baveas) by bus, then taxi, followed by on foot to the ruins. Shortly after arriving and walking around the overgrown temple, the group is surrounded by a large armed group of hostels. After Dimitri is killed by the locals the group flees up to the top of the temple. When they reach the top they find that they are now surrounded. They also find Heinrich’s brother covered in the strange plant the covers the temple. They hear a phone ring down inside the temple where a rope system is set up down in the temple. Heinrich gets lowered down, but the rope breaks and he falls breaking his back. Stacey goes down after him, resulting in a deep cut on her knee. Later with Amy’s help lift him onto a stretcher which results in more damage. That night with all the group atop the temple Stacey and Heinrich are both attacked by the plants. The plants turn out to be carnivorous and grows on anything, including them. Stacey manages to pull a large section of plant from her hurt leg. Heinrich who has been unable to feel anything below his waist since he fell complains something is wrong with his legs and asks to see his legs. When they are revealed, they are mostly eaten away to the bone. Trapped on a temple covered in plant death, can any of our heroes survive?
I know the end of the description was really abrupt, but I couldn’t think of a good place to stop without spoiling everything. this film handles on aspect of horror very close and that’s the sense of dread. A strong uneasy tension persists through the film’s entirety.
I knew the second the film started, I was going to like it on the cinematography alone. The confined quarters of the opening, paired against the next introducing the main cast. Followed by the open feeling of the temple is great. Sure, they go inside the temple. But not as much as you would think. The vast majority takes place on the top of the temple.
While silly to state it again. I liked the acting in this film a lot. I found Laura Ramsey absolutely enchanting. Well as enchanting as someone who is being eaten alive from the inside out by plants can be. Shawn Ashmore, who I always confuse with his twin brother Aaron Asmore adds another good performance to his roster of them and Jena Malone is memorable here. At least for me.
Final thoughts, its bleak. Which is great, it’s what horror movie should do and that’s illicit a negative emotional response with tension, anxiety, fear, and doubt being my personal favorites. The mood is great and, other than a couple of semi hokey moments remains so. But those couple of moments like when the plants are making noise or when it’s “chasing” them do drag down the rest of the movie. So The Ruins a very good horror film with more of psychological bend gets a solid 8/10.