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I’m always down for a decent horror film. I was intrigued by the premise of The Ruins and I’d seen the actors in other projects and knew they were capable of worthy performances, so I went in open minded. A lot of this film is pretty average and just by the numbers, except for the quality of the performances and the characters. I applaud the main actors in this for really committing and giving us very intense performances and I also applaud the script for giving us good characters that we come to care about. Unfortunately, the script trips up by not delivering on its interesting premise.
It is somewhat rare for a horror film about college students to give us such quality characters but The Ruins does. I really fell in love with Jonathan Tucker’s character Jeff who is a regular guy that is very caring but also very capable and smart. Tucker gives a very convincing performance and makes you root for and love this character, bravo!
Jena Malone’s character is good as well and she manages to make her caring too. Tucker and Malone have decent romantic chemistry too and you want them to make it out together. I was a little fearful that Shawn Ashmore’s character Eric would turn out to be the annoying alpha male that turns on folks when in danger but to my surprise and delight, he is not. Ashmore gives a worthy performance and just like the others, makes us care for him because he proves to be a good guy.
And lastly, Laura Ramsey plays Eric’s girlfriend Stacy, and gives a really intense performance. Ramsey handles the grueling things her character must go through well and I liked her dedication. All four of these main characters are well drawn and turn out to be good people that we root for and really want to see make it.
The script we have here is truly a mixed bag. The Ruins gives us good characters and has some well written dialogue between these characters. Unfortunately, it doesn’t know what to do with its creepy set-up. From the film’s poster you would think that the only villain is the abundance of vines that are all over the pyramid, but you’d be wrong. This film has two villains, the vines and the Mayan village people that surround the pyramid.
The village people turn out to be far more frightening than the mysterious evil shrubbery or whatever it is. I think The Ruins needed to either dig deeper into these vines and have more scary scenes with that or it needed to focus more on these Mayan’s who go to terrifying lengths in order to stay away from the vines. Unfortunately, what we get is a film that just barely scratches the surface on these vines and the evil they represent. I wanted these characters to go down further into this pyramid and discover some scary stuff, but instead of making things interesting and digging deeper, the vast majority of the film is them on top of this pyramid trying to survive.
There is one brief sequence where two of them are down there looking around but that scene is not scary in the least and is full of shoddy special effects that zap the life out of everything. When you have a horror thriller based upon some mysterious evil,I think it’s best to explore it and provide the audience with some intriguing scenes.
That just doesn’t happen here. I also felt that some of the more graphic gore and mutilation wasn’t completely necessary. Yes, some of the more gruesome things that occur are survivalist in nature, but still. Let’s just say I would’ve preferred to see some creepy discoveries and adventure rather than see a couple of the nasty things that go on on top of that pyramid.
What you have here is a film that gets some things right but unfortunately not enough to make it a satisfyingly creepy horror. Side note: Jonathan Tucker, I’m taking boyfriend applications….
A chilling look at a decades old cult
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