Lessons from The Ruins

The Ruins is not good, not at all. But the film does teach us six valuable lessons. Read on for knowledge. (Note: actual list value uncertain. Proceed with caution.)

The Ruins is not good, not at all.But the film does teach us six valuable lessons. Read on for knowledge. (Note: actual list value uncertain. Proceed with caution.)

1. Plants are not scary. You have to give the filmmakers credit. They really tried on this one. A bunch of young American tourists getting trapped on the top of a Mayan temple, being slowly killed by some whiny talking flowers with vines that eat away at their bodies–OK, never mind, you can’t give them credit, The Ruins plot is just plain stupid.Take some clues, guys. Little Shop of Horrors. Evil Dead. Freaking Jumanji. Violent plants just don’t fall into the realm of the genuinely creepy. Especially not when they move like molasses in January and wait hours between attacks.

2. Jena Malone should have fired her agent, like, yesterday. This actress is so immensely talented (Donnie Darko, Saved!) and it’s a shame she appears in such a blah movie, because it sure as hell isn’t going to do anything remotely positive for her career.

Her capacity for a subtle depth easily makes her character the most interesting of The Ruins‘ dim-witted protagonists, but it’s nowhere near enough to save the movie. Her compatriot actors are stilted, whiny and generally douche bags, particularly her domineering and boorish boyfriend Jeff (who also looks eerily like a chinless Bruce Campbell). This brings me to my next point.

3. Intense drama isn’t effective when the characters are really annoying. The protagonists of The Ruins get put through a pretty gritty amount of trauma, and had any of them been worth caring about, I might have, well-cared. But there’s not much to like about these four college students who embody every stereotype of dumb first-world tourists (“Four Americans on a vacation don’t just disappear!” Jeff rants memorably, which got a chuckle from the whole theater), and so there’s a detachment from the agony they get put through.

Which is considerable. The Americans’ poor German friend Mathias experiences the most torture, as he falls down mineshafts and gets his legs gruesomely amputated. Vines sneak into a girl’s skin and move around in her body, requiring them to be cut out with a rusty hunting knife.

The discord that ensues between the four as the trauma of their situation takes its toll is pretty harrowing, and is one of the better parts of the movie. But it’s hard to care about these people, and so the drama doesn’t connect.

4. There’s a reason scary movies take place at night. Two nights go by in The Ruins, and they occupy about three minutes of screen time, with all the action taking place during the day. It’s an interesting premise, breaking the tradition of night time movie fright, but it also doesn’t work. Get a clue guys. The earth is round, cookies go with milk and everything is always scarier in the dark.

5. There should be awards for mediocrity. You know how there’re the Razzie Awards to serve as a counterpoint to the Oscars, nominating the worst movies of the year? The Ruins prompts me to propose a third ceremony, the Yawn Awards. Seriously. This movie could teach a masters class on middle-of-the-roadness. It’s not so bad that all interest is completely lost, but the movie is definitely not good enough to engage the audience, or even make us curious.

If you’re a fan of crappy horror movies, you’ll get a kick out of The Ruins–but only a little one. And if you’re not a big fan of the genre, you’ll be slightly annoyed that you took an hour and a half out of your day to watch this. The Ruins isn’t good, but it isn’t bad either.

6. Upper-middle-class tourists getting their shit ruined must give Hollywood producers mad hard-ons. This one’s kind of self-explanatory.