Creepy and intense, The Ruins isn’t particularly original, but it’s loaded with thrills. The direction is fantastic, cinematography at times jaw-dropping, and the psychological aspects gripping. The Ruins is horror done right.
The set up is simple, even generic. A couple of college kids take a trip to Mexico and end up exploring an ancient ruin. In slasher movie style (without ever becoming a slasher movie), they’re slowly picked off by killer plants residing in and around the ruin. If you can buy into the deadly plant aspects, which does sound absurd, then this movie never lets go.
The scripting, along with Carter Smith’s plodding direction, keeps the story moving at a laborious pace. That works for the film, not against it, introducing the audience to the deadly threat piece by piece. By the time it’s fully realized, the gripping mental breakdowns of the characters are in full swing, and the premise is easy to accept. That, and the concept is no more ridiculous than any other creature feature.
Gore is used effectively, and while there are certainly scenes where it’s used for shock value, others treat it with care to increase the horror factor. Certain characters come off as annoying (or downright stupid) taking away from their plight, but it’s a minor detraction in an overall solid piece of pure horror filmmaking. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
The Ruins uses loads of color filters on the source. As such, the picture comes out blazing, with loaded primaries and stunning overall color. Contrast is high and sometimes overblown. Black levels remain bold throughout, even underground. Image depth is excellent. Detail is phenomenal when the whites aren’t running too hot. Every shot is razor sharp. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Offering TrueHD 5.1, the movie itself doesn’t offer much opportunity for this track to shine. The surrounds do gain work though, and it’s impressive. The creeping vines fill each speaker as they trudge along to their victim, and the soundtrack provides a few moments of notable bass. More impressive is how well the dialogue comes through even when the characters whisper, perfectly in line with whatever your volume is set at. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Extras kick off with a commentary from director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Bentancourt. Three featurettes focus on general production, visual effects, and sets. They run for a little over a half hour in total. Five deleted scenes (with two alternate endings) offer an optional commentary, and the film’s trailer ends the discs special features. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]