Updated: I have now seen the final version of the film and have given the film an official rating:
Adapted by Scott Smith and directed by Carter Smith is Paramount Pictures’ THE RUINS, which was tested out here in Los Angeles, CA in preparation for its April 4 release. We snuck into the theater to catch an early look at what could be the horror film of this spring. Since it wasn’t 100% complete, and we’ve been told the ending has been re-shot, we can’t give the film an official score just yet… but I will say I really dug what I saw. It truly is a faithful adaptation to the popular novel.
The adaptation of the popular novel follows four American friends on vacation in Cancún, Mexico – Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacy – who meet a German tourist, Mathias, and persuades them to join his hunt for his younger brother, Henrich, last seen headed off with a new girlfriend toward some ruins. The four soon regret their impulsive decision after they find themselves lost in the jungle and freaked out by signs that they’re headed for danger.
Right off the bat my first thought was, “not another TURISTAS or HOSTEL,” thankfully it isn’t. THE RUINS has turned over a new leaf in horror and will get inside even the thickest of horror fans’ skin. It’s is a completely different tale that shares only one thing in common with those films – the tourists are fish out of water. Lead by two incredible actors, Jonathan Tucker and Jena Malone, the film takes a long time to develop. Smith takes his time building the character arcs and attempts to make the trip as believable as possible.
Once our group of teens arrive at the tomb, things take a terrible turn for the worst, as the natives won’t allow them off the ruin. They’re trapped and have no idea why. Then the sh-t hits the fan as something is attacking them at night… and it’s clear that it’s coming from inside the ruin, which is a terrifying thought. Although a lot of the scenes seem to be added purely for “shock value,” what follows are some of the most disturbing, gut-wrenching and cringe-inducing sequences in a long, long time. It’s as intense as it is bloody and violent. In a quick spoiler example, one of our teens has his legs eaten by the “plant” in the ruins, forcing Tucker’s character to break his legs and amputate them. At this very moment a few audience members stood up and scurried out giving all of us a good laugh. I guess it’s safe to say that RUINS carries some of the most memorable horror scenes caught on film in a long time, which was proven by the amount of walkouts.
In the end, the film did need a little work and I wasn’t a huge fan of the finale. I was pretty excited to hear that they re-shot the ending for the upcoming release. The only real downfall to RUINS is that it’s really nothing new or all that original, but any hardcore horror nut will have a blast with it. And on another note, for those of you who wanted more monster in CLOVERFIELD, the same goes for RUINS. Carter Smith’s film is about the characters and not about the monster plant that lives in the ruins. If you’re the type of person who digs character driven thrillers, THE RUINS is a real treat, but for those of you want tons of cheesy plant monsters, look at Asylum’s direct-to-video slate as I’m sure there’s a bad rip-off following close behind.