Grade B-

Four young Americans on vacation in Mexico take up a German and Greek’s offer to visit the recently discovered ruins of an ancient temple.  Upon setting foot on the outskirts of the ruins, the local tribe appear with guns and bows, threatening to kill any foreigner that steps away from the ruins.   To make things perfectly clear, the locals kill the Greek who steps away from the ruins with an arrow to the chest, followed by a bullet through his face.  The remaining five travelers scramble to the top of the temple, trying to make sense of what the hell just happened.

The locals set camps all around the temple, being careful to stay at least forty feet from the base of the ruins.  Are the foreigners to be sacrificed?  Or have they unwittingly awakened an ancient evil that must be contained at all costs?

One of my most memorable, movie moments of “The Ruins” is the scene when two of the trapped foreigners lift one of their companions who has fallen and broken his back.  As the injured man is lifted to a makeshift backboard, his bones can be heard cracking and breaking!

My most memorable moment of this movie is the scene when the man with the injured back agrees to have the med-school dude amputate his legs so that injured dude won’t get the rest of his body infected.  Wanna-be Doc says to the trapped party that injured dude is paralyzed and won’t feel a thing.   Out comes the hunting knife, and wanna-be Doc starts cutting.  Injured dude starts screaming!  Wanna-be Doc takes a big rock and smashes the bone to break it.  Injured dude is screaming for wanna-be Doc to stop.  Idiot Doc repeats the process on the other leg!  What the hell!   Wanna-be Doc tells all that injured dude wasn’t feeling anything, he was just freaking out from seeing what was being done to his body.  Whoo, boy, if there was one guy I wanted to see die a horrible death, it was wanna-be Doc.  This was obviously a scene to make the audience cringe for a few minutes; but it was so extreme and unwarranted that it was almost comical, like watching a Monty Python sketch.

Cringe and squirm is what “The Ruins” is great at making the audience do.   It’s not so much a horror movie…it’s more “torture porn” horror.  It has a few cheap scares, and several lengthy, gross-out scenes of bodies being mutilated.  The great acting of Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey manage to pull this movie up to a B- grade.  A few tweaks of the script, such as making “the creatures” come out only at night, would have made “The Ruins” better.  As it stands, it’s an entertaining movie, and one of the better ones of its genre.

— M