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The Ruins (Unrated Edition) - Blu-ray DVD / horror DVD review
THE RUINS (UNRATED) Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 stars
Actors: Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore, Joe Anderson
Director: Carter Smith   Studio: DreamWorks SKG
DVD release: 08 July 2008   Runtime: 93 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, French, Spanish - 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 Dolby TrueHD), Subtitles (English, French, Portugese, Spanish), Commentary by director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt, "Making The Ruins," "Creeping Death," "Building The Ruins," Additional Scenes(Rain; Celebration; Going Over The Escape Plan; Alternate Ending 2; Original Theatrical Ending), Theatrical Trailer #1 ("Fear Cutdown v.6")

Scott B. Smith, the writer of A Simple Plan, pens the screenplay for his novel about a group of college-aged kids who run afoul of a Mayan ruins. Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Amy (Jena Malone - Saved, Donnie Darko), Stacy (Laura Ramsey), and Eric (Shawn Ashmore) are vacationing in Mexico when they happen upon Mathias (Joe Anderson). The kids invite Mathias to join them for drinks, and he ends up inviting them to come with him to an off-the-map Mayan ruins where his brother has gone (missing). Dimitri (Dimitri Baveas) joins them as well, and though he doesn't wear a red Star Trek shirt, he may as well.

They take a bus and a cab out to the middle of nowhere and find the beautiful Mayan pyramid covered in foliage. As they get closer to the pyramid, a group of menacing Mayans approach and shout at them. Nobody speaks Mayan, so much is not understood; things get tense, and Dimitri is shot and killed by the Mayans. The others run to the top of the pyramid and are, for whatever reason, not shot at. We understand that the Mayans are trying to get something across, but we don't find out what until much later.

The plants covering the pyramid are more animated than most plants, and they have a thirst for blood. They attack, and little by little the kids get knocked off. It's a horror film, so this is not unusual. Some of the characteristics the plants display are wonderful, even more so in hi-def clarity; one in particular is devious and effective. This stuff is like kudzu on steroids, but it doesn't go beyond what might be possible for a super-plant. The kids must face the all on the pyramid, unable to leave thanks to the Mayans who stand guard, unwilling to let the plant travel beyond the clearing.

I'd forgotten the trailer of The Ruins before seeing it for the first time on Blu-ray, and I was glad I did. The film is striking and scary. I didn't know what to expect in the ruins - zombies, ancient technology, ghosts, what have you. That it was the plants was a surprise, and a potent one at that. That the plant was the antagonist in The Ruins was revealed in the trailer, and I think that was a mistake. Trailers give too much away these days. Though I don't think the best parts were given away in the trailer, they might have found more pleased audiences had they not.

A bit gory in places, but not gratuitous to me. I look forward to what director Carter Smith has to show us next.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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