June 24, 2008

The Ruins (2008)

More often than not if I watch a movie after reading the novel that it was based upon I find myself disappointed. Of course you can't fit everything that is in a book onto the screen. The Ruins has gone against that rule for me though. I did think the book was ok, it wasn't great by any stretch, but for the most part I thought it was fairly enjoyable. There was a little too much waffle and self-indulgence on the side of the main characters that just turned me off, although when it came to some of the many set-pieces it was quite terrific. The movie though, which was written for the screen by the author Scott Smith, seemed to be a more streamlined affair. Not perfect by any stretch, although I did have more fun with it than the novel.

The plot of the movie revolves around four Americans that are holidaying in Mexico. They meet up with a German, Matthias, who informs them that his brother has gone off to help on an archealogical dig at some ruins, that don't happen to be on any maps. The brother was due back, but has yet to return, so he wonders if the Americans, Jeff, Eric, Stacey and Amy, would like to come with him to find the ruins.

Of course they go along, it'd be a pointless movie if they didn't, however, on their journey there they are warned off by a local taxi driver, and then by the local Mayan's. Well, we assume they are being warned away as they don't speak English and no subtitles are given, which adds to the suspense if you ask me, something that worked well in the Hostel movies.

Once they make contact with the ruins themselves though they find they have no choice in whether to turn back or not; the locals won't let them leave now. What is it that is so bad that the Mayan's won't let the tourists leave?

We will, in due time, find out.

Now, first off, there are several events that have been changed from the novel to the movie. Some events do happen, but to different characters, and some events are new to the movie, which was great for me as it added an element of surprise to proceedings. For the most part though it was a fairly faithful adaptation, aside from the godawful end to the movie.

The Ruins was a fairly gruesome, surprisingly so in places, director Carter Smith not being afraid to show the gristly bits when needed. The bloody scenes further helped to enhance some of the later scenes when cleanliness may well have been the ideal option for the characters involved.

The special effects ranged from very good to slightly dodgy, especially when it came to the CGI shots of the ruins themselves. But, I was quite impressed with the rest of the effects work.

The cast did an ok job, although a couple of the actors seemed to struggle with the intensity of the situation. Nothing too much to grumble about though. Sure, they do stupid things, but don't they always? It is afterall a horror movie. If they did the right thing all the time they would still be sat at the beach getting drunk.

What really let it down for me though was that ending. Oh dear, it just annoyed me. Up until that point though I was having quite a good time with this movie. It was fairly well paced, nice and visceral, and had enough surprises to keep me hooked, even though I knew the main plot points from the book.

The Ruins is flawed, although I would definitely recommend it as a rental, if not a purchase.

Rating 3 stars (out of 4)

Review by Jude Felton


Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't YET read the book yet, it's just been sitting on my shelf. I should be receiving the movie soon though and I'm anxious to check it out. I hear it's actually quite decent.

Anonymous said...

when they cut the guy's leg off and pulled it off, bone included, i cringed at the sight. It was too hard to look.

JD said...

Book and film work on their own.
The movie is very good and scary.

Excellent review!!

Lord of Filth said...

After watching this I really hope that it does well on DVD, as it was better than I hoped it would be. Like I say there are flaws, but on the whole it was entertaining stuff

Fred [The Wolf] said...

I liked this film too. Not perfect but a lot better than I was expecting it to be. I should read the book though, but the film was pretty good. 3 out of 4 is pretty much perfect.