Jonathan Tucker as Jeff McIntire
Jena Malone as Amy
Laura Ramsey as Stacy
Shawn Ashmore as Eric
Joe Anderson as Mathias
Sergio Calderón as Lead Mayan
Jesse Ramirez as Mayan Bowman
Balder Moreno as Mayan Horseman
Dimitri Baveas as Dimitri
Never-before-seen alternate ending
Original theatrical ending
3 deleted scenes
Commentary by Director Carter Smith and Editor Jeff Betancourt
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 93 Minutes
The following is from the official synopsis of the film:
“Unspeakable. Unstoppable. Unrated.
When a group of tight-knit college friends visit the site of an undisturbed Mayan ruin, they stumble into an ancient trap. An unspoken evil waiting to drag its victims into an endless nightmare. As fear and paranoia eat away at their sanity, their only chance at escape is to commit the unthinkable. Experience ‘The Ruins,’ Unrated with shocking new scenes too intense for theaters, and a disturbing climax you will never forget.”
This is the unrated “Ruins” DVD. The theatrical edition was rated R for strong violence and gruesome images, language, some sexuality and nudity.
While I typically don’t like slasher horror movies or torture horror movies, I do like horror movies that do something different with the genre. (A good example is “Aliens.”) So when I heard “The Ruins” was a horror movie that takes place at a Mayan temple where a bunch of Americans get horrifically picked off, I was intrigued. (You had me at ‘Mayan Temple’.) It sounded like it could be a horror version of “Indiana Jones” or something. So I went into this film with some high expectations. They weren’t met.
The film revolves around the twist of what’s killing everyone off and what the Mayan locals are afraid of. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I say what it is the DVD cover screams it. It’s plants. Yes, you read that right. Killer plants. But not just any killer plants. They’re killer plants that mimic noises. It’s like “Little Shop of Horrors,” but without the singing and at a Mayan temple. It’s like “Day of the Triffids,” but with pretty actors. When this was revealed on the screen, I was shocked and disappointed. That was it? From that point on the film lost me.
It didn’t help matters that nothing scary happened for the first half of the film. All we are treated to are scenes that just put the group at the temple, obligatory nude scenes, and other ‘character’ moments that set them up to be killed. But most of it was quite unnecessary you could watch it in fast forward and not miss a single thing. So, in short, it had pacing problems.
I will give “The Ruins” points on several fronts. First of all, the cast is good. Jena Malone has proven herself in the past and Shawn “Iceman” Ashmore is almost unrecognizable as Eric. Joe Anderson also manages to deliver a pretty good German accent as Mathias. They also do almost all the ‘horrific moments’ in broad daylight which is practically unheard of in the horror genre. And the fact that they filmed on location helped a lot, too. The film is beautiful. Then I have to credit them for not simply doing another horror movie where a killer chases someone or a scantily clad woman is tortured on a table by a serial killer or cannibal. (A scantily clad woman IS tortured, but give them credit for trying something different.)
I’d only recommend “The Ruins” to fans of the book and big horror fans. I think they’re the only ones that can get past the whole plant thing and enjoy the other aspects of this film.
You’ll find a small selection of bonus features. There are featurettes on the gore effects, the plant effects, and the temple set. There are a couple of deleted scenes plus an alternate ending (which shows the plants making it back to the US via a cemetery). Then there’s the ‘making of’ documentary which shows producer Ben Stiller talking about the film. It’s really weird to see him promoting a horror movie he produced, but kudos to him for trying something different.