OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


The Ruins (2008)

In order to understand why I feel about The Ruins the way I do, I should possibly explain something beforehand:

Plants are something I am not entirely comfortable with.

You'd think that someone who grew up in the rural countryside of Austria (the place in Europe, you morons, not the place with the kangaroos - that's Australia; and no, Austria is not equal to Germany either) would have no problems with greenery. Well, I have. I avoid green stuff. I don't trust it, for a variety of reasons I myself am not too sure about. For once, you never know what sort of critter is hiding in/on/under/whatever any given plant. You don't know what it has already touched, or has been touched with. You don't know if it could be potentially fatal. Or give you rashes and allergic reactions.

I personally only trust plants that I have a detailed knowledge about. And trees. Trees are somewhat okay as long as they are not too close to me.

But what really creeps me out about plants is... well, they're neither alive nor dead. Which, to my mind, translates to "it doesn't bleed when you cut it, it doesn't breathe, it doesn't make any sounds, and still it's not properly dead". And, frankly, I am confused by that. I can deal with dead things. I can deal with living things (well, not counting spiders and most gross insects - and no, the praying mantis is not gross, it is pretty and I like it). But anything in between that I can't consider to be an undead/semi-dead abomination out of the cold abyssal darkness from beyond is just.... unnatural. And plants are just like that.

I don't even like to eat them. I only eat them when my body plainly tells me that it's time for some of that green, creepy stuff, and then I exclusively eat it in a state in which I feel I can trust it - e.g. spinach on a pizza. The occasional salad already leaves a weird feeling in my mind when I look at it and start to speculate about ...it. So... plants are unnatural things which I don't understand, don't intend to understand, and they are creepy. There you go.

So... consider that whilst reading the following review.

The Ruins starts out with a promising beginning: A young woman cowering in a dark room, desperately screaming for help, all the while trying to reach the outside world with her mobile phone. It is a good scene, and it makes you wonder - what is going on there? Where is she?

....apparently, she's somewhere there:

Cut to our protagonists for the next 93 minutes: Young adults Amy, Stacy, Jeff and Eric. I liked it that the names were easy to remember, you don't mix them up but can actually tell them apart, and there is no overabundance of characterisation.
Our group of young adults is on holidays in Mexico. There, they meet Matthias (from Munich, played by Joe Anderson, who does the German/Bavarian accent of the character so well that I was fooled and took him for a native German in the beginning... before I looked him up on imdb.com, honestly. Congratulations, Joe, you did a great job there), who provides the hook for the whole adventure - namely, visiting an archaeological excavation of a Mayan temple.

Naturally, this turns into a disaster.

This once more brings me to my usual "All I learned, I learned from Lovecraft" - point: Randomly visiting excavations as some sort of adventure-seeking tourist or relative of someone who hasn't been heard of since he/she/it went to aforementioned excavation is a big no-no. Heck, excavations are dangerous to the uninformed laymen (aka, everyone not an archaeologist). They are also usually quite sunny, hot and lack decent air-conditioning (the main reasons why I will never become one of those field archaeologists - I prefer my working climate to be cool and dark, thank you, preferably with a bar and a good HiFi system as well as a high-speed PC with internet connection, thank you).

So remember: If someone invites you to an excavation of some random ancient temple... just decline and continue to enjoy your life.

One thing about the movie that impressed me was that the acting was solid (even good!) through and through. It's a rare horror movie - or any movie, really - in which you can fully appreciate every single actor involved. The Ruins falls under this category. The actors aren't forcing themselves into their roles, they are adding more life and realism to their respective characters. My favourite is still Joe Anderson as Matthias, though. It's not easy to deliver great acting whilst spending most of the movie lying motionless on the ground. However, the rest of the cast did a great job as well. Although I have to say that the character of Amy, played by Jena Malone (of Donnie Darko fame), is one of the most annoying whiny bitches I ever had to witness on screen. There were several instances when I wanted her to die a slow and painful death. VERY slow and VERY painful.

At the 23rd minute, we get our first death, as our tourists are discovered by a weird bunch of people who apparently don't speak Spanish and want the young adults to stay away from the step pyramid (no, it is NOT a pyramid, nor is it a ziqquratu). Of course, being stupid, they don't stay away, and so one of them gets an arrow into the chest, followed by a bullet to the head. Luckily, this was only a minor character, so we get to keep our full cast for some while.

The locals set up camp around the Mayan structure (calling something a "structure" is the safest way to go in archaeology, trust me) and are not willing to let any of our young people leave. We wonder why... but not for long. Rather, I personally wondered why the characters took so long to figure out that their decidedly deadly confinement on top of the structure (see? It works!) had to do with their contact to the icky plants all over it.

A propos icky plants: That whole ...vine-stuff... is absolutely sickening. I can't really explain why, but the leaves have a sort of structure that really makes me queasy by just looking at them. And unfortunately, there is no single freaking second in this movie in which you can't see them.Well, a few. But not a lot of them.

If that isn't an ominous sky, I don't know what constitutes as one.

Now, the premise of monstrous plants whose sole purpose is to kill you and/or infect you (possibly in order to eat you AFTER spreading?) is a little bit ridiculous, I will readily admit that. In fact, I thought so myself. But... ewwwwwwwwwww. Okay, I admit it, I might be more prone to be creeped out by this movie than someone else due to my admitted problem with green stuff, so plants that move and kill and make noises and...move... even more... and EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW... goosebumps. I know, I know, it is ridiculous, but I am really positively grossed out by the plants in this movie.

On the other hand, I hate the character of Amy with a passion in the first... 50-something minutes. She truly is the most dumb of the whole bunch. I mean... the idea that the people who shot one of your companions and then hunted you up the Mayan structure would help you just because one of you got hurt is a little bit ridiculous, isn't it? And especially after witnessing that they're willing to shoot one of their children after having come into contact with the vile vine-stuff, it seems a tad unlikely that they'll suddenly change their mind and let our protagonists go. But Amy insists on being a stupid cunt. Ah, well... probably part of the character development (clearly visible).

Back to the point: Our protagonists should have realised that their situation really has to do something with the plants when the locals shot one of their own children after it had been in contact with the plants... or after Jeff found the piles of corpses with moving plants on them. And not just "on" them...

The Ruins also plays on the "Americans are in a foreign country in which the locals try to kill them brutally"-theme that, as far as I am aware of, started with Hostel and then got elaborated upon by various other movies like Turistas, Life Feed and others of that ilk - in The Ruins, it's the local plant-life that has gone insane with... well, unnatural "life", and is intending to eat the good Americans. Then again, the plants are willing to kill and eat anyone (Matthias is supposed to be from Munich, and last time I checked, Munich was still located somewhat to the West of me, in Germany, Europe), but motivational speeches like "Four American tourists don't just DISAPPEAR!" strongly reek of that special vibe.

But enough of that.

The gore is not plentiful, and not particularly good either, besides for one scene that made me happy. It involves an impromptu amputation of legs. With a hunting knife and the help of one vicious looking stone (in order to break the bones) and a heated frying pan (to cauterise the wounds). This scene truly brought me joy.

However, in American med schools, you apparently learn that Septicemia is "an infection of the bones". I always thought it was an infection of the blood. And it appears that I'm right.

Another thing that creeped me out about The Ruins was the fact that those icky plants actually get INSIDE you and grow there. I am not particularly fond of ANYTHING that grows and lives under my skin, and plants are even more disgusting than, say, parasites. The thought does NOT bring me joy... or happyful, for that matter (I haven't used the term far too long).

In short: I don't like plants and vegetables anyways. They are ...weird. Creepy. Not alive, not dead. Plants that suddenly ARE alive and STILL are plants are... creepy. Unnatural. Yes, that's the word. Unnatural. It's... gross.

After careful reconsideration and a 3rd viewing...

7.5/10 vines that literally grow under people's skin and are a freakin' menace to the whole world.