The Ruins (film)

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The Ruins
Promotional poster
Directed by Carter Smith
Produced by Stuart Cornfeld
Jeremy Kramer
Chris Bender
Screenplay by Scott B. Smith
Based on The Ruins 
by Scott Smith
Starring Jonathan Tucker
Jena Malone
Shawn Ashmore
Laura Ramsey
Bella Sana
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Edited by Jeff Betancourt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 4 April 2008 (2008-04-04)
Running time
90 minutes
(Theatrical Cut)
94 minutes
(Unrated Director's Cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $22,375,000

The Ruins is a 2008 supernatural horror film directed by Carter Smith which stars Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, and Bella Sana. 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.


Two young American couples (Jeff and Amy, and Eric and Stacy) enjoy their vacation in Mexico. They meet Mathias, a German tourist, who is looking for his brother Heinrich. His last known location is an archaeological dig at a remote Mayan ruin in the jungle. They are also joined by Dimitri, Mathias's friend. The group reaches the ruins of a Mayan temple, and are confronted by Mayan villagers with guns and bows. Mathias tries to explain their purpose, but but the villagers do not understand Spanish or English. When Amy accidentally touches some shrubbery growing on the ruin, the villagers become increasingly agitated. Dimitri approaches the villagers, hoping to appease them, but they shoot and kill him. The rest of the group flees up the steps of the ruins.

At the top, they find an abandoned camp and a shaft in the center. The group cannot call for help since Eric's phone has no signal. They hear a cell phone ringing from somewhere inside the ruins. Believing it is Heinrich's phone ringing, the rest of the group lowers Mathias down the shaft with a rope. The rope breaks and Mathias falls, becoming completely paralyzed. Amy and Jeff descend the temple steps hoping to reason with the Mayans, but to no success. In anger, Amy throws a clump of vines at them and hits a young boy, whom the Mayans promptly kill. They realize the Mayans are afraid of the vines, and 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. Jeff and Eric rig a backboard and bring Mathias out of the shaft.

The next morning, Stacy sees a tendril of vine has crept into a wound on her leg. 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, Heinrich's friend, and a broken phone. They then realize that the ringing sound are made by the flowers of the vine. As Amy touches one flower, the vines attack and the two barely escape.

The group now realizes that the vines are predatory, which is why the Mayans won't let anyone leave. As Mathias' condition worsens, Jeff amputates his legs to avoid an infection. Stacy becomes jealous at Eric comforting a distraught Amy. Later, she accuses them of having sex and claims that she overheard Amy moaning (the sound is implied to be made by the flowers). While the four argue, the vines suffocate Mathias by creeping down his throat.

The next morning, Jeff sees a now unstable Stacy cutting herself, paranoid that the vines are inside her. He successfully removes the ones in her legs and back. Feeling something in her forehead, she begin slicing her own head. When Eric tries to calm her down, she fatally stabs him. Overcome with remorse, Stacy begs Amy to kill her. She is then killed off-screen. 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. He then provokes and berates the Mayans, drawing their attention away from Amy. The Mayans eventually shoot Jeff with arrows. Amy gets up and runs through the jungle with the Mayans chasing after her. She reaches the Jeep and drives away. Jeff is executed by the Mayan leader.

Some time later, Dimitri's Greek friends move toward the temple, looking for him, and it's implied they will eventually befall the same fate as Jeff's group.

The Untold Ending[edit]

  • An alternate ending used in the unrated cut of the film shows Amy driving away from the ruins, but the vines appear on her face and her right eye turns bloody.
  • A second version of the scene plays out identically, then cuts to a cemetery where a caretaker is walking among the headstones whistling. He hears the same tune coming from Amy's grave. Around the headstone lie several red flowers. 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."[1]



The shooting of this film took place in Queensland, Australia. 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.'"[1]

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."[1]


Box office[edit]

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.[2] As of 7 July 2008 it has grossed $17,432,844 domestically and $22,321,810 worldwide.[2] the film was considered a success, as it made back its production budget ($8 million) in its opening weekend.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. As of 6 October 2013, the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 48% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 95 reviews.[3]

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."[4]

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...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."[5]

Home media[edit]

The Ruins was released on DVD on 8 July 2008 in both R-rated and unrated versions.[6] 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.[7] 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.[6]


  1. ^ a b c 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. 
  2. ^ a b Box Office Mojo (2008). "The Ruins". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Ruins Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  4. ^ James Berardinelli (2008). "ReelViews Movie Review: Ruins, The". Retrieved 5 April 2008. 
  5. ^ 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). 
  6. ^ a b The Ruins (US – DVD R1 > Releases at DVDActive)
  7. ^ Movie The Ruins – DVD Sales – The Numbers

External links[edit]