I’m a horror movie junkie. I can’t help myself. I don’t want to go to Horror Junkies Anonymous. I’m a slave to adrenaline, the way it explodes in my head every time I scream in terror, waking me up, jumpstarting my heart, making me feel alive, arousing me sexually . . . oh, never mind. The point is that I LOVE the rush I get from being scared. It’s the monkey on my back, or in this case, the vine on my back.
I went to see The Ruins with limited expectations. Yeah, yeah . . . another scantily clad group of young adults doing something moronic in a foreign country and as a result meeting with some kind of unspeakably horrific demise which these days is usually drawn out, long and slow and fascinating from an FX point of view. (No, really, how DO they make having one’s insides dug out slowly with a tablespoon look so real! Don’t worry—I made that up.)
But I’m happy to say that The Ruins delivered a bit more than I expected. The plot premise offered something a little different (well, with a bit of a nod to Creepshow) and the performances were definitely a cut above the usual running, boob-bouncing, arms-flailing, silly screeching. With Jonathan Tucker and Jena Malone heading the cast, the acting ability was there. (I really miss you, Tommy Donnelly!) And did you ever notice that both of them do this little scrunchy, puckery, pointy thing with their mouths? Check it out. It’s like they’re from the same gene pool or something.
So Jonathan’s and Jena’s characters (who happen to be boyfriend/girlfriend—makes that whole same gene pool thing a little creepy) along with another couple, and a German guy, and some Greek guy (you know right away that he’s going to be the Ensign Johnson) go deep off the beaten path into the jungle somewhere in Mexico to search for German guy’s brother at some ancient ruins that don’t show up on any Cancun postcards. German guy’s brother was on some archaeological outing and never came back. What they encounter at this vine-covered Mayan pyramid are (1) man-eating, talking plants (not nearly as cheesy as it sounds) and (2) really mean gun- and bow and arrow-wielding natives who refuse to let the kids get away from the ruins covered with man-eating, talking plants. Tough spot to be in (okay, I could be talking about our economy).
Bloody, seat-squirming, stomach-churning but predictable things happen. I had a few genuine “Oh, HELL no” screaming moments (getting that adrenaline fix). The tension is maintained for about as long as it could be—at 91 minutes, the movie’s length is almost, but not quite over the edge of horror sustainability, at least the sustainability of this particular horror. I and my movie-going companions left satisfied that we had been sufficiently terrorized for the evening. On a scale of five carnivorous talking plants, I’d give this one three—again, not great, not bad, just scary enough to get the adrenaline pumping and novel enough not to bore us to tears. (Saw 15, anyone?)
Now, about the economy . . . to steal a horror movie quote from a while back: “Want to see something REALLY scary?”
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