Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
DreamWorks | Unrated – 93 min. – $39.99 | July 8, 2008
Date Published: 07/10/2008 | Author: The Movieman
DreamWorks Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
The Ruins is thankfully a horror film that is not A. a remake B. a sequel or C. all of the above.
The film’s first thirty minutes feels so much like Turistas I wondered if I put in my DVD copy in by accident instead of The Ruins. We soon get introduced to our soon-to-be-dead cast of characters which includes Jeff (JONATHAN TUCKER), his girlfriend Amy (JENA MALONE) her best friend Stacy (LAURAN RAMSEY) and her boyfriend Eric (SHAWN ASHMORE). Right away they find themselves talking to a creepy guy named Mathias (JOE ANDERSON) who convinces them to join him on an adventure to look at a ‘secret’ Ruin that his brother is digging at in the Mexican jungle.
Once the group arrives at the mysterious ruins, they are instantly greeted by screaming Mayans who refuse to let them back into the jungle. While the group wonders why they are being yelled at, one of the tag-alongs accidentally steps into the vines where he meets his gruesome end by one of the Mayans. Scared, the rest run up to the top of the Ruin where most of the film will take place.
I went into The Ruins hoping that it would be like The Descent – one of the best original horror films to come out in the past ten years. When it was over, I felt it was almost there, but not quite. I enjoyed what it was, but it simply was missing something that I couldn’t place my finger on. Maybe if the film been about twenty minutes longer and fleshed out the actual ruins a bit more, it could have been a much better film. I just kept wondering when the group would try and make their escape though a secret chamber in the ruins but it simply never happened. Instead they opted to sit on the top and let time pass hoping someone would eventually come looking for them. Even if someone did, by the end of the movie there were thirty to forty Mayans just waiting for them to come down… so obviously a help crew wouldn’t be much help.
While the film has some pretty intense gore, the tension was not there. It simply went from one scare to the next and we literally had to watch the group of friends talk and get attacked without any deaths happening until the final ten minutes.
The Ruins feels like a mix of The Descent, Turistas, and a little bit (a tiny, tiny bit) of Little Shop of Horrors. All three of these combined makes a great horror film that is sure to be kept on my shelf for a long time.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
All features are presented in HD unless noted.
Commentary with Director Carter Smith & Editor Jeff Betancourt – While most commentaries typically have someone describing whats happening on screen, this one has more of Jeff asking Carter questions.
Making the Ruins (14:23) – A decent ‘making of’ that also shows some differences between the novel and film.
Creeping Death (15:05) – A glimpse at one of the “characters” inside The Ruins and some general gore footage.
Building The Ruins (6:20) – A very short featurette that discusses the production.
Deleted Scenes + Alternate/Theatrical Ending (~12 Minutes; SD) – We are presented with 3 deleted scenes, all which have rightfully been cut as well as the original Theatrical trailer and Alternate Ending. I agree 100% with all 5 of these scenes being nixed/replaced. The Unrated cut is exactly how the film should end (which reminded me a bit of the Unrated ending to The Descent).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Ruins is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 (AVC/MPEG4) on a 50GB Disc. I was pleasantly surprised with the picture quality here given most of the film takes place in three or four spots. The sunlight looks great and the vines…well, I don’t want to ruin much of the movie but they look pretty darn good (with the exception of one shot down in the cave that is clearly poorly done CGI).
AUDIO – 4.0/5
DreamWorks continues with an English Dolby 5.1 TrueHD track for this release. Once again I am somewhat disappointed as the film does not use much in terms of my rear speakers. While there are the typical ambient sounds, nothing really happens. There is some pretty cool affects when the vines make noise, but beyond that it’s a fairly average track.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
The Ruins may not be the most original horror film to come out, but it is definitely a lot better than the rash of remakes and sequels we have been force-fed down our throats for the past few years. The film feels like it could have been something wonderful if it had fleshed out the actual ruins and vines a bit more, and included a much larger (and expendable) cast.