Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Movie’s attempt at horror ‘Ruin’ed by hollow plot

killers, exorcism and the supernatural have all proven to dish out scares in
horror films. One subject that has yet to convince audiences it can send chills
up their spines is archaeology, and “The Ruins” is a great example of why it
most likely never will. This new horror flick from rookie director Carter Smith
is a lifeless gore-fest that produces far more yawns than screams.

is most disappointing is the fact that this film had so much promise. In an
article for “Entertainment Weekly,” Stephen King claims Scott Smith’s novel of
the same name, on which the movie is based, is “the best horror novel of the
new century.” So when word came out that Smith, who received an Academy Award
nomination for the screenplay of his previous novel, “A Simple Plan,” would
also be writing the screenplay for the movie, there was a lot of buzz
surrounding this film.

what went wrong? The fact that this movie is debuting less than two years after
the novel was released gives good insight into just how little effort was
involved in the film’s creation. The makers put little care into creating a
coherent story, developing characters or even including an occasional thrill to
keep the audience awake.


“The Ruins,” Smith takes his audience to the sunny beaches of Mexico, where a
group of four friends are on vacation. Deciding that they want to do more than
get plastered and tan by the poolside, the four embark into the jungle with a
fellow tourist to a hidden archaeological dig site atop ancient Mayan ruins. Little
do they know that among these ruins lurks grave danger.

Smith must have cut out a hefty portion of his novel when writing this
screenplay, because the plot has absolutely no substance. No time is put into
explaining just how these ruins ended up getting cursed in the first place or
the existence of the evil that resides there. The audience is forced to simply
accept that deathtraps are there, and that is that.

the same time, the plotline is written in such a contrived way that the
resulting story could not be any more convenient. For instance, someone gets
hurt, but it’s okay because one of the four teenagers just happens to be a med
student. But there isn’t any antiseptic to cleanse the wounds — no problem,
they’re in Mexico and have huge bottles of tequila with them to use

this is a horror film and the chief concern is terrifying the audience, it may
have been possible to look past details like this, but considering the lack of
effort put into making this film scary, one can only wonder where all the
production time was spent. Evidently this film was absentmindedly thrown
together over a very short span.

the only thing this film’s creators found to fill in the hollowness of the plot
was lots and lots of gore. Heaps of blood and guts can be both creepy and
tasteful in horror films when fittingly used, but recently more movies use gore
solely as a gross-out element rather than a fear factor. “The Ruins” jumps
right on this bandwagon, as its overuse of blood does not enhance the plot or
even scare the audience.

plot aside, the film does not do any better when it comes to creating likeable
characters the audience can relate to. It is sad that actors like Jonathan
Tucker (“In the Valley of Elah”), Jena Malone (“Into the Wild”) and Joe
Anderson (“Across the Universe”), who have been in critically acclaimed films,
wasted their time in such frivolous roles.   

what has become stereotypical for horror movies, all four of the characters are
unbelievably dumb — they act and make decisions in ways no living, breathing
human would. They just sit on top of the ruins whining and yelling emotionless
dialogue like, “Four Americans do not just go off into jungles and get killed
without people knowing.” At times like these, one almost feels like rooting for
that mysterious evil to just finish them off.

the end, “The Ruins” does not even amount to a trashy, slasher flick worth
sitting through for a few thrills. The creators’ loose attention to detail, plot
development or characters results in an inability to scare or even entertain an
audience. It just comes to show that some things, like this film, really are
best left undiscovered.

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