The Ruins (film)
|Directed by||Carter Smith|
|Produced by||Stuart Cornfeld
|Screenplay by||Scott B. Smith|
|Based on||The Ruins
by Scott Smith
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Editing by||Jeff Betancourt|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||90 minutes
(Unrated Director's Cut)
The Ruins is a 2008 horror film directed by Carter Smith which stars Jordan Patrick Smith, Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, and Joe Anderson. Released in 2008, the American-Australian co-production is based on the novel of the same name by Scott Smith, who also wrote the screenplay.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2012)|
Two young American couples (Jeff and Amy, and Eric and Stacy) on vacation in Mexico make friends with a German tourist, Mathias, and decide to help him look for his brother, Heinrich. Heinrich had met a female archaeologist and followed her to an archaeological dig at a remote Mayan ruin in the jungle but had not been seen since. Dimitri (a friend of Mathias) joins the bus journey to the Mayan site the next morning and the group uses a crude map Heinrich drew.
When the group reaches the ruins, Mayan villagers appear with guns and bows. Mathias tries to tell them they're looking for his brother by showing them a picture of him on his cell phone, but it becomes clear that the villagers do not understand Spanish or English. Dimitri approaches the villagers with Amy's camera with the hope of appeasing them, but he is instead killed with an arrow and bullet to the head. The rest of the group then flees up the steps of the ruins to escape the Mayans.
At the top they find an abandoned camp with two tents and a shaft in the center leading down. Eric and Mathias are the only two with cell phones, but Eric's has no signal and the Mayans still have the other. Then they hear a cell phone ringing and realize it's coming from the bottom of the shaft. Mathias says he is certain it's his brother's ringtone and is lowered down- but the rope breaks. He falls into the darkness of the shaft.
Meanwhile, Amy (followed by Jeff) descends the temple steps in hopes to reason with the Mayans, but they have no success. In anger, Amy throws a clump of vines at them and hits a young boy, leading the Mayans to shoot him. Jeff and Amy then return to the group. They then realize the Mayans are scared of the vines, and the Mayans won't let them go since they have touched them. Later, Stacy and Amy descend the shaft to help Mathias and to find the phone. They find Mathias who has broken his back and legs and cannot move. Jeff and Eric rig a backboard and bring the paralyzed Mathias out of the shaft.
Next morning, Stacy observes a tendril of vine has crept into a wound on her leg during the night. The vines have also wrapped themselves around Mathias's lower legs and eaten them down to the bone. Eric and Jeff are barely able to remove the vines from Stacy but cannot get them off of Mathias. The cell phone is heard again from deep in the shaft so Stacy and Amy descend again. In a small, vine-covered room the two find the body of the young archaeologist (from the opening scene of the movie) as well as her broken phone. Amy discovers that the flowers are vibrating and screeching, reproducing the ring of the phone. As she goes to touch one, the vines attack and the two barely manage to escape. Stacy is convinced the vines are growing inside her. The group now realizes the vines are predatory. They also see the Mayans salting the earth around the hill. They all contemplate whether or not to find a way to escape the ruins and whereas Amy, Stacy and Eric want to try to escape, Jeff insists that "four Americans on vacation don't just disappear" and that help is on the way since they haven't checked out of their hotel and will miss their flight. After some more arguing, they all hesitantly agree to wait.
With Mathias' condition getting worse, Jeff amputates both his legs saying Mathias will die of an infection otherwise. Stacy becomes jealous at Eric comforting a distraught Amy, accusing them of having sex claiming that she overheard Amy moaning. Stacy calls Amy's fidelity into question by bringing up an earlier incident where a drunken Amy almost made a move on Mathias, but was stopped from taking it further when she intervened. While the four argue, the vines suffocate Mathias and Jeff finds his body with the vines going down his throat.
To remove the vines in Stacy's leg and back, Jeff cuts them out of her. Stacy claims she can feel more, but the others reluctantly deny her pleas to remove them. While the rest sleep, Stacy sneaks out of her tent and begins to slash herself in an attempt to remove the vines. Jeff tries to stop her and she slashes out at him, cutting his hand. When Eric tries to stop her, she fatally stabs him and the vines drag his body away. Overcome with remorse, Stacy begs Amy to kill her, and Jeff goes to remove the knife from Eric's body. Amy cries asking him not to kill Stacy, as Stacy slowly dies while the vines inside her begin to kill her. The film cuts to the Mayans watching at the base of the pyramid. Stacy is heard screaming, continuing to beg them to kill her and her screams abruptly stop implying her death.
Realizing they'll both eventually die, Jeff makes a plan for Amy to escape. He smears Stacy's blood all over her, then carries her to the bottom of the temple and lays her on the ground, making it appear as though she has died. After giving her a kiss, Jeff begins walking away and talking aggressively – which eventually leads to the Mayans shooting him with arrows before shooting him in the head with a bullet. Simultaneously, Amy makes a run for it through the jungle while the Mayans chase after her. Narrowly missing arrows and gunfire, Amy starts the Jeep and furiously drives away.
In a finale, Dimitri's Greek friends are seen moving toward the temple, looking for him.
An alternate ending used in the unrated cut of the film shows Amy driving away from the ruins, but this time the vines appear under the skin of her face and her eye fills with blood revealing she became infected with the vines as well. A second version of the scene plays out identically, but then cuts to a cemetery where a caretaker is walking among the headstones whistling Frère Jacques. He hears the same tune coming from Amy's grave. Around the headstone lie a few of the same red flowers, and as the caretaker reaches for one, the music surges and the scene cuts to black.
Director Carter Smith told an interviewer, "We shot a bunch of different stuff to see which one would work best with the finished film. There's a testing process you go through with a studio movie and as frustrating as it can be, it also really gives you a good sense of how an audience feels about an ending. Our final decision was informed by what audiences found the most satisfying after watching a really punishing film. I love the ending of the book, but if the movie had ended the same way, the audience would have wanted to kill themselves."
- Jonathan Tucker as Jeff McIntire
- Jena Malone as Amy
- Laura Ramsey as Stacy
- Shawn Ashmore as Eric
- Joe Anderson as Mathias
- Dimitri Baveas as Dimitri
- Jesse Ramirez as Mayan
- Karen Strassman as Vocal effects for The Vines
According to The Miami Herald, "Smith was two-thirds done with the book when Ben Stiller's production company, Red Hour Films, bought the screen rights based on an outline. 'They told me they wanted me to write the screenplay, too,' Smith says. 'So while I was writing the last third of the book, I already knew I'd be adapting it for the movies.'"
Director Carter Smith said, "If the audience is going to buy that this vine moves and can get into your body and all that, the world of the film has to be absolutely realistic. We took elements from lots of different real-life plants when designing our vine. It's in practically every single shot in the film after the characters reach the hill, so it has to look like something that could really be growing there. But it also has to look menacing once you realize what it is capable of doing."
The Ruins was released in the US on 4 April 2008. In the US box office it debuted at #5 making $8,003,421. After 3 weeks it exited the top 10. As of 7 July 2008 it has grossed $17,432,844 domestically and $22,321,810 worldwide. Despite not being a huge hit, the film is still considered a success, as it made back its production budget ($8 million) in its opening weekend.
In Australia, The Ruins was originally planned to release on 17 April 2008. Then the release was pushed to 31 July 2008 which was then pushed to 7 August 2008. These plans were scrapped when Paramount pulled out of distributing it to theatres, but however has not scrapped plans for a 4 December 2008 DVD release. The premiere in Queensland was on 28 June 2008.
Among critics who gave the film favorable reviews, James Berardinelli gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "The Ruins does what a good psychological horror movie should do: rely on tension rather than gore to achieve its aims. This bleak, edgy motion picture isn't concerned with appealing to the masses that flock to multiplexes to enjoy the spatterings of the latest serial slasher or the hollow weirdness of a PG-13 ghost story."
The Miami Herald gave a mixed review: "The Ruins is, with one major caveat, about as good an adaptation of Scott Smith's bestselling novel as Hollywood was ever going to make... No matter how good your special effects crew, no matter how strong your cast, your movie is going to live or die on the whim of some shrubbery. It's a testament to how effective The Ruins is, then, that much of the film imparts a reasonably effective facsimile of harrowing intensity as Smith's novel does... Director Smith is as good as orchestrating sustained sequences of suspense as he is at pulling off exemplary gross-outs (a highlight: a double-amputation by rock). The cinematography by the great Darius Khondji (Seven) tempers the film's trashy B-movie roots with an air of class. And except for a stray shot here and there – like a glimpse of the vine's tendrils making off with a severed foot – the great potential for unintentional guffaws is mostly avoided."
The Ruins was released on DVD on 8 July 2008 in both R-rated and unrated versions. It debuted at #4 on the DVD Sales Chart, selling 189,128 copies. As of 3 August 2008, The Ruins has sold 343,414 copies. The R-rated edition includes a commentary by director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt, three featurettes (Making The Ruins, Creeping Death, Building The Ruins), additional scenes (Rain, Celebration, Going Over The Escape Plan, Alternate Ending), and trailers. The unrated edition includes the theatrical cut and extra material, and also an alternate ending and optional commentary with additional scenes. An unrated Blu-ray Disc edition is also available with identical features.
- Rodriguez, Rene (4 April 2008). "The Ruins: Scott Smith's Novel Comes to the Big Screen". The Miami Herald (Miami: The McClatchy Company). p. G6.
- Box Office Mojo (2008). "The Ruins". Box Office Mojo. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "The Ruins Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- James Berardinelli (2008). "ReelViews Movie Review: Ruins, The". ReelViews.net. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- Rodriguez, Rene (4 April 2008). "THE RUINS (R) 1/2: Not quite the nightmare we were all hoping for". The Miami Herald (Miami: The McClatchy Company).
- The Ruins (US – DVD R1 > Releases at DVDActive)
- Movie The Ruins – DVD Sales – The Numbers
- The Ruins (US – DVD R1 > Releases at DVDActive)