Thursday, April 03, 2008
The Ruins gets a good review!
Posted by JPX
From AICN, [excerpt] The Ruins (based on the wildly popular book by Scott B. Smith, who also wrote the screenplay) takes these youngsters (along with a couple new friends they meet on the beach) into the jungles of Mexico to what they believe is an ancient Mayan temple. The locals watch them carefully, and the minute the students step foot on the temple grounds, the locals forbid them to leave. One tries to leave, and they shoot him with an arrow through the heart. The kids climb to the top of the temple where they find the remains of a camp site where those before them set up to explore the site. But where are they now, and why is the sound of a cell phone coming from down into the temple? I'm sure many of you know what the true danger in The Ruins is, but I'm not going to be the one who spoils it for you if you don't. It took me by surprise, and proceeded to scare the wee wee out of me for 90 minutes.
First-time feature director Carter Smith does not spare us the blood and guts, but he doesn't go overboard with it either, especially when the young med student is forced to perform emergency surgery a couple of times in the group's time atop the temple. The film also puts the perfect amount of weight on every decision the group makes. Should they stay put and wait for rescue (logic and circumstances dictate that eventually someone will come look for them), or should they true to outrun the waiting natives at the base of the temple who will kill them as soon as they try to leave (a rescue is far from guaranteed)? Either decision seems like a bad one. The Ruins will make you scream, squirm, cringe, bite your nails, perhaps even dry heave or throw up in your mouth. The one thing it will not do is bore you. It parcels out just enough information in each scene to make you salivate in anticipation of the next morsel. Then, of course, when you discover the truth and the extent of the trouble, you'll wish you hadn't.
The acting is stronger than I'm used to seeing in most horror films. Even Ramsey gets a few choice scenes, and in the end is the actor who is forced to endure the most suffering. Tucker also is extremely good as the natural leader who may be the only one with a clear enough head to understand the extent of the group's peril. One of my favorites is Joe Anderson (Control; Across the Universe) as Mathias, a tag-along part of the group who gets his ass whooped almost as soon as they arrive atop the temple. Despite being set almost entire out in the open, The Ruins feels remarkably claustrophobic, so much so that it feels hard to breathe at times. My only complaint is that the ending of the film seems abrupt (and apparently is slightly altered from the book's conclusion), leaving a few unanswered questions that I suppose might have been left so deliberately to keep the film open for a sequel, but I still feel a cleaner ending was possible. That's a minor complaint. The Ruins is great, freak-out-worthy material that will have you questioning every little bump under your skin and itch you can't quite reach. Oh, I need to see this again very soon.
at 4:21 AM