Main cast: Jonathan Tucker (Jeff McIntire), Jena Malone (Amy), Laura Ramsey (Stacy), Shawn Ashmore (Eric), and Joe Anderson (Mathias)
Director: Carter Smith
I am told that Scott B Smith’s book of the same name is a pretty good horror story. Therefore, I can only imagine that what can be really scary when it’s left to the reader to visualize things in his or her head could very well turn out to be a dud when it’s made into a movie and there is nothing left to the imagination anymore. Mr Smith also wrote the screenplay of this movie, so I can only imagine that the flaw is due to the execution which is lame enough to make me sit up and take notice of the many plot holes in this movie.
The story is pretty simple: four American kids go on vacation in Mexico as one last hurrah before they go their separate ways when the college term begins. Jeff and Amy along with Stacy and Eric decide to accompany a German fellow Mathias to some Mayan ruins where Mathias hopes to locate his missing brother. Things go wrong pretty much immediately when they find the locals harassing them to go up the ziggurat-like structure and killing anyone who dares to disagree with them. The kids will eventually realize that the ivy-like plants covering the structure are sentient creatures that prey on human flesh and blood.
A good horror movie needs to have characters that the audience can root for at least a little. Here, the kids are so stupid that I find myself wondering why it is taking so long to kill them off. Oh no, they are dangling from a rope in deep darkness and they have no idea how far down it is to the ground. Here’s a bright idea – let’s jump! And on and on they go, until I can only wonder how they get to be where they are without having found themselves in a car crash or two.
Still, the ladies aren’t too stupid here. Their mistake is to follow their boyfriends blindly, because between the irritatingly patronizing Jeff and the dim-witted Eric, the two of them don’t have a single brain cell to share. Nonetheless, it only takes thirty minutes into the movie for me to want them all to die ASAP so that I can stop watching this movie and do something else.
And the plants, which are meant to be scary, come off as pretty comical in an unintentional manner.
Because The Ruins is terminally boring rather than chilling, I find myself taking notice of all the plot holes. For example, I’m not told why the stupid natives will force the kids up the ziggurat instead of warning them not to approach the ziggurat. I’m also left to wonder why the natives won’t just dynamite the whole structure in the first place instead of wasting hours standing around the ziggurat and pouring salt around it. The whole movie feels like one big contrivance designed to drive home how stupid kids invariably meet bad ends when they wander off too far into foreign lands.
Nice rear end shot by Jonathan Tucker though, for what it’s worth. The guy is too skinny, however, and I think he will be better off incorporating more carbohydrates into his diet.