THE RUINS (2008)

Day #86
Alarm! The time flickers 04:12 on my trusty digital clock as I hear a noise outside the igloo! My government issue APHSD (Anti-personnel Private Home Security Device) has been triggered!!

I rush outside and sure enough, someone has walked through my piece of string with cans attached.

Then an unwelcome sight – the dog enclosure has been broken into! The dogs are gone, along with my sledge!!

So I really am trapped then. My only means of transport gone. Stolen. But by who? Or what??

Then I remember. I didn’t have any dogs or a sledge.

Or a dog enclosure.

Relieved, I go back inside the igloo, making a mental note to list my provisions, as the TV comes slowly alive and the credits roll (and I remember I don’t have a digital clock either)…

THE RUINS (2008)

There aren’t enough films with scary man-eating plants these days for my liking. Just think how much better Eyes Wide Shut, Mona Lisa Smile or even, I daresay, this year’s Oscar nominated The Reader would have been with the inclusion of a carnivorous hedgerow or two.

So I’ve got an awful lot of goodwill for The Ruins, a film about - scary man-eating plants.

It uses Modern Horror Film Template #1 to start - a group of scantily clad teens go exploring. They meet some unfriendly locals.

Where The Ruins score points for originality is that we’re a-way down in Mexico way.

And the unfriendly locals have surrounded the teens on the roof of a Mayan temple. But why don’t they attack??

Our teens are trapped on the temple roof. What will they do? What plans will they put in place to get rescued?

Or to put it another way, how long would you be able to sit on a roof without breaking your back, smashing your leg and getting stabbed?

I’m not saying our teens are particularly accident prone, but within the space of 5 minutes one of the guys has taken a header down the only, very clearly marked, hole on the roof and broken his back. And there’s soon a girl hobbling around with a huge gash (don’t be crude) in her thigh. It would seem that not only do our teens have to worry about being trapped by hostile locals, they also have to worry about being a bit stupid.

And then the plants start getting frisky. The injured members of the party awake to find their wounds have attracted the local vegetation. Cue much horrible and bloody cutting and pulling of vines from veins.

We’re then treated to a double amputation with a pen-knife. Lovely. Actually, it’s quite funny. Something inside me will always find a bloke with a dodgy German accent pleading for his legs to be cut off deeply hilarious.

I’ve just remembered I was going to try and be nice to The Ruins. So I'm quite happy to admit that yes, I did quite enjoy it. The young cast did a great job, with some impressive acting throughout, and the special effects team certainly know how to shake a plant or two.

I was, however, kinda surprised to discover the source material is a highly praised novel (Scott B. Smith), because the film’s attempt at a back story and character motivation and development seemed distinctly half-arsed. Why didn’t we find out more about the first party of guys whose empty tents were found? Why didn’t we find out a little bit more about the locals? I could understand an answer of ‘we needed to cut to the chase and get the plot moving’, but at the end of the day the plot involved little more than teens standing on top of a Mayan temple having endless unintentionally amusing accidents.

Despite this the fact remains – The Ruins has man-eating plants and is therefore worth watching. Go see it. You never know (awful pun alert), it might grow on you!


  1. this is on my Amazon list but I didn't realize it included man eating plants! feed me seymour! lol. Actually I'm glad you mentioned that. I'll still probably give it a shot. BTW...I think I'm in the minority...but I LOVE Eyes Wide Shut! lol

  2. I greatly enjoyed The Ruins as well and actually got a chance to read the book before I saw the movie. Luckily they were able avoid the curse of "the book was better" and I think that the film added to the story. In the book there was quite a bit more back story and some of the story line was a bit different but overall they both complimented each other.

  3. I wasn't too sure going into this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a good movie, unnerving and strange and horror-fun. Liked it.

  4. I, too, was surprised by this one. It was actually quite good, filled with several good scene to make you squirm and itch.

  5. I thought the book was decidedly different, and decidedly better. The characterization was quite a bit more interesting where the film goes the usual horror film character shorthand route.

  6. I too will have to say that the book is far better. No matter what sort of CGI you throw out there, talking plants just end up being Little Shop of Horrors to me on the big screen. The way you picture a book in your head doesnt seem so absurd. I also didn't understand why they changed some of the characters. In the book it is one of the male characters that is paranoid about the vines being inside him and who keeps cutting away his flesh.

    The plants are far more devious in the book as well, voices, smells, and acidic sap. The movie was okay, but sadly I had read the book a couple of months before and so all I could do was compare.

  7. Finally I get to tell someone I liked The Ruins! Every other opinion on the film that I've encountered has been mocking and negative, to the point where I was embarrassed to admit I thought it was really good.

    I have to admit though, I found the ending really annoying - the silly CGI, and the sudden change in temperament on the part of the plants (why didn't they go that fast to begin with?). Overall, though, great fun! And, best amputation scene ever...? Quite possibly...

  8. From all your comments it sounds like this was a bit of a missed opportunity - we didn't really get to see the plants' deviousness in full effect, did we?

    Will deffo check the book out.

    If I ever get out of this godforsaken arctic force-field, of course.

    PS In the meantime I feel like compiling a Top 5 amputations list - any suggestions? Audition would have to be up there... Misery?

  9. Hmmm - technically it's not an amputation in Misery... How about Ride With the Devil? I know it's not horror, but that amputation is nasty.

  10. I personally preferred the book, but that's probably the nerd in me talking. I found the whole concept just didnt work as well in the visual medium.

    Oh, and no amputation list could be complete without including Frankenhooker!

  11. Amputations you say? How about the opening scene of Braindead (Dead/Alive) where the explorer gets bitten on the arm by the caged ratmonkey and his colleagues keep chopping bits off to prevent infection.... until they see his face has also been bitten!

  12. Damn, trioxin, you beat me to it.

    "Singaya! You've got the bite!"

  13. Smirking Revenge said it best ~ I completely agree with what she said!

    Great Review IK and an absolutely hysterical opening! :-)

  14. so you like killer plants? what did you think of The Happening then? think about it.

    also a plant related amputaion of sorts ... remember when in the movie Swamp Thing when that guy chopped off ole Swampy's arm? not as gory or as funny as Dead/Alive but nothing really is as funny or gory as

  15. Hahaha. I wasn't going to see this, but I think I'll add it to my Netflix queue now. Thanks!