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DVD Review: The Ruins (Unrated Edition)

I have to admit, I'm a bit torn on this movie. On the one hand, I enjoyed it. There was some nice gore with some great prosthetic work, some really creepy scenes, a nice feeling of not knowing what to do next, characters who didn't whine all the time, some brief nudity that actually felt natural for once, and towards the end one of the hot female leads ended up in nothing but a tattered t-shirt and her panties. But on the other hand, the actual story didn't make much sense to me at all. It felt like there were a lot of plotholes which, if addressed, made ensure that these horror events wouldn't actually be happening.

It's going to be hard to tell you about this movie without revealing main "bad guy" causing all the terror, so if you don't want to know please go away now. Okay, so the story starts with two young, beautiful couples on vacation in a foreign land who wind up meeting a guy named Mathias that tells them he is going to be traveling to some newly discovered Mayan ruins the following morning, as he has lost contact with his brother who went to study the ruins. So they all go together, and have an easy enough time finding the place thanks to a hand-drawn map that Mathias had. What they see is an old stone pyramid-like structure covered in vines, but before they can hike up past the base they find themselves surrounded by natives who seem more than a bit perturbed, and because of the language barrier nobody can figure out why.

So the group tries in vain to reason with these more than agitated locals, but that soon goes completely out the window the natives become violent, forcing our band of travelers up to the top of the ruins. So with them trapped up top and finding the dead bodies of the research team, I assume that they are now going to have to find another way out by entering the dark and creepy ruins. My assumption turns out to be completely wrong, however. They do go into the ruins, or at least a couple of them do, but it's because they hear a cellphone ringing. The only entrance from where they're at is a square hold in the middle of the floor with a little pulley system erected over it made of wood and rope, so without doing any kind of safety check on this rickety looking thing, dude just grabs the rope and heads down.

Then the whole typical rope-break thing happens, and he falls to severe bodily injury... but not death, so they send one of the girls down on the rope to help Mathias out. Yeah, so you know the rope can break, and now you have much less of it than you did before, and even if you do somehow manage to lift Mathias out of the hole you're still trapped on the top of these ruins, and the only way out may be through a passage down in the ruins... but apparently none of that nonsense matters much to these guys. Anyway, she goes down, runs out of rope, jumps, and hurts her ankle. Nice going, dumbasses. Eventually they rig a platform that they can lower down and place Mathias on, but it comes up short. So instead of trying to find a bit more rope-like material, they the two girls just lift the broken Mathias several feet off the ground and maneuver him onto the platform. Sure, this caused him extreme pain and could have possibly killed him, but at least now they can get him out of the hole.

Alright, so here is where I'm going to start talking about the real threat... the plants. Apparently the vines are alive, and like to eat meat. While it's definitely a cool concept, it starts to make you question a lot of things. For one, why haven't the locals wiped it out by now? We see them spreading salt all around the ruins so that no plants will grown, and we see that it works as evidenced by the large dirt area surrounding the ruins, so obviously these plants can be killed. How about fire? Or poison? Or how about even some simple warning signs around the area indicating the plants are toxic? Or even perhaps a trench with wooden spikes? How about something, anything to indicate that there might be a reason not to enter the ruins?

Okay, next issue I have is with the killing. Not by the plants, but by the locals. They won't let our travelers leave, so why don't they just kill them? In once scene where a couple of our people come down to the base of the ruins and out of frustration throw one of the plants at the locals (this is before they know the plants are evil), the plant hits a little boy. What do the natives do? They instantly kill the kid. What do they do to our guys? Nothing. They continue to keep a vigilant watch around the ruins to make sure our group can't leave. Why take the risk? Why put them through this torture? Just kill them and get it over with! Of course, then you'd have no movie.

But wait, there's more! So not only do these plants have a taste for human flesh, but they can also crawl on their own, and they're not very slow either. So why don't these plants just kill our guys? Why do they wait around for so long, gradually creeping and taunting? There is one scene where the two girls head back down into the ruins to find a cellphone that they keep hearing. So when they finally find the source of the ringtone, they have already had to crawl through a tunnel completely covered in vines, and end up in a room that is also completely covered in vines. When the pair realizes the plants are alive and are closing in around them, they quickly scuttle to make their way out of the room, through the tunnel, get on the platform and are raised to safety. WTF?! Why did the plants wait? Why did only the vines in the room start to attack? Were the ones in the tunnel sleeping? And why did they wait?

Of the special features on the disc, are deleted scenes, and among these several alternate endings were included. Both my wife and I agreed that some of these were better than the one which made it into this version of the film, and that actually includes the original theatrical ending (which is very similar to the one on this disc). The other feature of interest is a behind-the-scenes featurette. This was actually pretty good, as it showed a lot of different aspects of making the movie, including my favorite, the gory prosthetics. There is also a commentary for the film by the director and editor, but I haven't listened to that yet. All-in-all, this is a hard one to classify. I enjoyed watching it, was never really bored or lost interest, but it just seemed to have some gaping plot holes.

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