Films in the Attic is a segment that I haven't done in awhile but I always liked it and since the re-launch I was thinking of bringing it back. During these segments will be exploring strange little known or talked about films and films that had a wide release but were over looked and deserving to be rediscovered by fans. All of these films are released in some form. DVD or Blu. VHS only titles are going to get its own segment.
Film: The Ruins
Directed By: Carter Smith
Written By: Scott B Smith
Released by: Paramount Pictures
Both a Unrated DVD and Blu release.
The Ruins is a perfect example of a horror film produced by a major studio can be really good yet somehow get lost among the pile of films that came out that year. On the surface The Ruins seems like another movie about hot 20 somethings going off into the unknown with horrible consequences. Yes it is that but its so much more.
The Plot: Two young couples are soaking up some fun in the sun in Mexico. Whiling relaxing poolside they meet a German tourist Mathias. He tells them he is going to visit his brother at a Mayan ruins that is totally off the map and according to him very "VIP" He offers to take them and they decide that its something to good to pass up. Dimitri Mathias friend joins them, using a crudely drawn map. After a Taxi ride and a short hike they get to a hidden entrance which leads them to a rather impressive Mayan temple. However they are not alone and a group of villagers armed with bows and one man (who I assume is the leader) is armed with a gun. Dimitir is killed and the rest run up the steps of the temple. What started out as an interesting and exciting adventure quickly turns into a nightmare as more villagers camp out below leaving the group of friends stuck up top.
When I first saw this film I was expecting to hate it, thinking it was just another film about hot people in danger in a foreign land. Boy was I wrong. First lets talk about the source material. "The Ruins" was based on a book by the same name written by Scott Smith. Stephen King called it "the best horror novel of the new century" Smith also did the screenplay and what we get is non stop action and horror that weaves twists and turns that "leaves" you guessing til the last frame. Besides a small section at the beginning the whole film takes place in one location the Mayan temple, any film that confines itself to one set runs the risk of getting stagy yet Ruins pulls it off seamlessly. The pace is break neck and it never lets up til the end credits. You will be hard pressed to find a more original horror concept. This film has no masked serial killer, monster or vampire yet still shocks yet still has the power to creep its audience out. I also love that the girls are smarter than most of these films. For example when the group get to the secret entrance Amy says hey this is weird and that somethings not right about it. Nobody believes her of course but It speaks volumes and I love when female characters are given a brain rather than just body count fodder. Speaking of Amy she starts out kind of whiny but wisely this is eased up a lot, which is important when your film is confined and you have a tiny cast. Its nice to see the women in this film be proactive and given something to do rather than just screaming and being naked.
Ruins has a small but talented cast of actors. Jonathan Tucker (Texas Chainsaw 03) Jena Malone (Sucker Punch, Hunger Games) Shawn Ashmore (The Following,X-Men) Laura Ramsey (Lords of Dogtown) play the four friends and between them are some very impressive film credits. They all do a great job and never go over board and take their roles very serious. Chemistry between the couples are believable even though Jena Malone would be so out of Jonathan Tuckers league (but hey its a movie)
The effects are very effective with its blend of tastefully done CGI and practical. The corpse make up are realistic and obviously handled by someone who knows what they are doing. I don't want to give a lot away but its just skin crawling.
2008 saw a lot of terrible remakes and just awful horror films. Sadly "The Ruins" got passed over and forgotten about. I hope that someday the film finds its audience and takes it place as the classic that it is.