The Ruins

I’ve seen a lot of Mexican vacations go wrong in the horror/thriller arena but never as specifically and drastically so as it does in The Ruins, a stressful, gruesome, brightly lit body horror vehicle written by someone who probably had a traumatic experience with poison ivy as a kid. Your typical American kids are lounging at a resort, dealing with petty relationship issues and getting drunk when a German backpacker tells them of an archeological expedition at a nearby Mayan pyramid, so they decide to take a day trip and check it out. Well this pyramid just happens to be covered in an exotic, sentient and very pissed off species of carnivorous vine and once touched, you’re fucked. The local villagers have apparently already had run-ins with it and surround the ruin with guns, blocking off any escape or further contamination. This leaves these kids atop the pyramid to slowly be hunted, starved, preyed upon and driven insane by this horticultural nightmare, which is fun enough as a B grade exercise in grossology. The kids are all played by reliable actors like Joe Anderson, Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore and Jena Malone and they handle the desperation, fear and anguish fairly well. The vine thing itself is kinda neat, it looks like weed leaves and does this cool thing where it’s flowers can mimic people’s voices and other sounds to confuse and terrify it’s prey. There are some extremely unsettling moments of bone shattering gore and uncomfortable body horror that is effective and shocking, but most of the film is set on top of the pyramid in broad daylight so it’s not terribly evocative in terms of atmosphere. It’s fun enough, but nothing great.

-Nate Hill

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