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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Horror Review: The Ruins (2008)


Alan and I watched a lot of Killer Plant themed movies for our current series on Lunatics Radio Hour. But somehow we missed The Ruins. It wasn’t until we were on vacation in Maine, both in pursuit of spooky horror books to reach on the beach, that Alan picked up the novel version of The Ruins. (While I read Those Across The River).

I haven’t read The Ruins but Alan shared how much it impacted him. It stuck with him. So last night we decided to watch the film from 2008. And wow, what a story it is. The screenplay and novel were both written by Scott Smith. The film was directed by Carter Smith, and stars Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore and Jonathan Tucker.

Here is the IMDB tagline to set the stage for us: A leisurely Mexican holiday takes a turn for the worse when a group of friends and a fellow tourist embark on a remote archaeological dig in the jungle, where something evil lives among the ruins.

The Ruins is one of those torturous films to watch, because as soon as you put the pieces together, you realize what the outcome will be (also spoiler, apparently the book and film end differently). You have to sit and watch as each character either meets their end or dies in a horrific way in an attempt to survive the killer vines that are slowly taking over their bodies.

Another terrifying moment is when we realize the plants are mimicking the sounds that the characters are making. Our group spends quite a bit of time trying to track down a ringing cell phone that turns out to be the plants parroting back a sound they heard earlier. This mechanic comes into play later when Stacey, one of our leads, is hyperventilating and the plants pick up the noise and amplify it.

Though the film takes place in Mexico, it was actually filmed in Australia during the winter. Though The Ruins is from 2008 the cinematography and animated plants hold up well enough. I wasn’t taken out of the story by any of the effects. The plants themselves are viney with lively red flowers, beautiful but deadly. Even when they are squirming under skin or blooming out of their victims they maintain their beauty.

Going in I expected a film closer to The Descent. I thought I had the entire plot all figured out from the very start. But I wasn’t giving this story enough credit. It truly gets under your skin. The decisions to be made, the hopeless and ever lingering fate of the chaaracters. It’s intense. And it makes you think about some big things.


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