The Ruins, 2008
directed by Carter Smith
starring Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore
Although exciting and fast paced, The Ruins features shallow, underdeveloped characters and lacks a psychological edge resulting in a film that won’t leave too much of a lasting memory. A film adaptation of a novel with the same name, The Ruins has a fairly basic foundation for a plot. Four friends vacation in Mexico end up traveling from their resort into the jungle, seeking a new friend’s mission brother at an archaeological dig sit. From there, and even a few details from the beginning, the film makes rather dramatic changes from the source material. It’s annoying when anyone goes on about the differences between a book and a film, so I’ll avoid that for the most part, but do want to point a few things out quickly.
Obviously anytime you’re taking an average length book and converting it to a movie, things need to be cut. The Ruins, for the most part, does a decent job of that. There are actually enough changes where if you’ve read the book there are actually surprises in terms of what happens to whom, but the events themselves are for the most part familiar. However, hacked out of the movie is the actual time of events portrayed, making the film seem almost shorter than it is, and more of a quick nightmare than a slow but tense fight for survival. I found the characters in the book lacking, but they seem so fleshed out in comparison when you take the inconsistent and stiff personalities in the film. The acting is decent, but it’s hard to gather any palpable sympathy for anyone, and left me personally feeling very detached from the action rather than immersed.
An annoying major fault with The Ruins is a the overproduced style, with jump scares and loud music taking the place of slow, tension-focused buildup. The special effects are also a bit inconsistent, fairly impressive at points but almost laughable at others. While the movie features some grisly, bloody scenes, it’s unfortunately diminished because the characters and story leading into the moments are flat. Although it’s an average 90 minute long movie, The Ruins sacrifices depth for action and style and feels like it’s rushing through the story. It might be enough to distract and entertain viewers for a single viewing, but it’s nothing remarkable or worth a second look.