Horror Movie Review: The Ruins (2000)

The Ruins is a 2008 horror film directed by Carter Smith and written by Scott Smith, based on his 2006 novel of the same name.

Two young American couples — Jeff and Amy, Eric and Stacy — enjoy their vacation in Mexico. They meet Mathias, a German tourist, who is looking for his brother Heinrich. His last known location is an archaeological dig at a remote Mayan ruin in the jungle.

They are also joined by Dimitri, Mathias’s friend. The group reaches the ruins of a Mayan temple, and are confronted by Mayan villagers armed with knives, bows, arrows, and a gun. Mathias tries to explain their purpose, but the villagers do not understand Spanish or English. When Amy accidentally steps on some vines, the villagers become extremely agitated. Dimitri approaches the villagers, hoping to appease them, but they shoot and kill him. The rest of the group flees up the steps of the ruins.

At the top, they find an abandoned camp and a shaft in the center. They hear a phone ringing from somewhere inside the ruins. The group lowers Mathias down the shaft with a rope, but it breaks and Mathias falls, becoming paralyzed.

Amy and Jeff descend the temple steps hoping to reason with the Mayans, but to no success. In anger, Amy throws a clump of vines which hit a young boy, whom the Mayans promptly kill. They realize the Mayans are afraid of the vines, and will not let them leave as they have all touched them. Later, Stacy and Amy descend the shaft to rescue Mathias.

The next morning, Stacy sees a tendril of vine has crept into a wound on her leg. The vines have also wrapped themselves around Mathias’s lower legs and eaten them down to the bone.

Can the group escape this nightmare? Is there a way to free themselves from the vines or are they doomed? Watch and find out…

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The Ruins has an absolutely fantastic concept for a horror. It’s one of those films where you envision what you would do in that situation and what you would try. I watched the unrated version with the alternate ending, which I know changes things and shows more. The version I watched, the gore looked amazing. It was so realistic and the imagery was so disturbing and gruesome. The horrific amputations and cutting into human flesh, I love that shit. Despite the great job on the practical side, the cgi plants don’t hold up and look dodgy, unfortunately. I did enjoy their mimicry though, how creepy is that!

Everyone acts brilliantly, although I hugely disliked the irritating Amy, but I think that’s what they were going for. My favourite character was Jeff. As a doctor in training, he did everything he could to save these bozos, down to the last moment. He was the only one trying and getting it done. I would have loved it if he had been the final guy. All characters like Amy did was fold poor Matthias in half!

Speaking of Matthias, I can’t remember the last time I saw a horror character get that fucked up. Hands down he had the worst time out of everyone. His brother dies, he falls down a hole and becomes paralysed, the girl who comes to help insults him and is disgusted because he’s defecated himself, she then folds him in half – injuring him more, then he has his legs amputated but he isn’t quite paralysed enough so he feels it, and then a plant smothers him to death. All the while, no one asks if he’s alright. The only person who even gives him a drink of water is Jeff!

Fortunately, the gang have everything they need to survive for a couple days due to Heinrich carrying a full on camp up there before his death. It may have all turned out differently if only they had all sat down, even briefly, to discuss the madness going on, instead of going to sleep and giving handjobs.

Overall, The Ruins is a fantastic movie, regardless of its flaws I really enjoyed the ride. It’s gruesome, disturbing and horrifying. Definitely not a situation you’d want to find yourself in. But, perhaps one that could have been avoided if the Mayans had simply put up a sign?!


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

The Ruins
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
User Review
8.43/10 (6 votes)