Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Film Review: "The Ruins" (B+)

I should have reviewed this film a long time ago, but I'm a bit behind these days. I actually saw it the night before it came out at a midnight screening (and won the book, which I already had, because no one else knew their trivia), but work and school has taken me hostage.

"The Ruins" would probably have worked more for me if I had not read the book beforehand. I liked the interpretation, but I do think that it was very abrupt and weird changes were made I can't quite understand fully. I'm also pretty damn angry about the ending - what works so well for the book is the bleak outlook and how it doesn't end semi-happily, which the movie does. This is just yet another example that most studios or directors do not have the cojones to close things out like the book does. It does make me wonder, though, what Scott Smith has to say about the movie ending vs. the book ending.

The biggest flaw of "The Ruins" is that it doesn't let itself have a slow-burn. This is one of those rare horror movies that would have been much better had it been 30 minutes longer. I needed more character development, more descent into insanity. That is one of the scariest parts of the story - not the vines, but how the group slowly turns in on itself and the way each character breaks down. This isn't just my opinion, either. After the screening, the friend I went with and I were discussing what actually happens in the book vs. what happens in the movie (I was telling her how they were different from each other, she has not read the novel). She commented (prior to me mentioning anything) that the movie felt like it went too quickly and glossed over the descent into madness by each character. To me, that was the story being told - not the story of the vines. It felt a bit disjointed to me, overall, as if we were bouncing back and forth.

This isn't to say that the movie isn't somewhat effective in making you squirm, although I did feel more prepared because I - at least on some level - knew what happened. The film didn't really need gallons of blood - although there is a fair amount of blood and hey, even a severed limb! Even if I am someone who can stand pretty much anything shown on screen, the sound of those bones being purposefully broken made me wince. I think the scenes in this film will satisfy most horror fans; if you want anymore, go watch "Cannibal Holocaust."

To be fair, I did enjoy the movie. I criticize somewhat harshly mostly because I loved the book, but I respect the film for what it is - a decent interpretation of a fantastic story. It doesn't surpass decent, even if the screenplay was written by the same man who wrote the book in the first place. It's entertaining and creative and certainly a great movie to scare the pants off others, but I needed at least 20 more minutes with the veins for "The Ruins" to be a great experience.

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