Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 5: The Ruins

I’m one of those curmudgeonly people that always seems to get annoyed by others. I know I’m just too high-strung, but when I’m out in public, I’m constantly ticked off by people who seem like they were taught how to socialize with others by a drunk NASCAR fan. One group in particular that annoys me are young, arrogant white college kids of privilege.

It’s been said that films work because of their closeness to dreams. Freud even said that dreams were mainly wish-fulfillment. In that case, The Ruins, the 2008 film directed by Carter Smith and starring Jena Malone (who was in Donnie Darko) is the wish-fulfilling dream for me.

Our story starts with four college kids in Mexico for vacation. We have Amy (Jena Malone) who seems to pop on glasses when she needs to look smart for something, Jeff (Jonathan Tucker) the pre-med student, Stacy (Laura Ramsay) who is there to show the required gratuitous boobs, and Eric (Shawn Ashmore) because you need one guy who looks like a stoner. I’d offer more description if I could, but these characters have nothing unique about them worth describing. We never get to know anything deeper about them other than Amy and Stacy are, like totally, BFFs and that Jeff is a pre-med student.

Our over-worked and stressed college kids of privilege are relaxing by a hotel pool when they meet Methias (Joe Anderson), a German who just happens to be visiting his archeologist brother at this Aztec pyramid that’s, get this… NOT ON THE MAP! After having only known each other 30 seconds, Methias invites the four to join him. Well, it turns out that the kids didn’t want to do anything touristy while in Mexico (apparently lounging by a hotel pool, ordering room service, and drinking on the beach isn’t touristy) but since this ruin ISN’T ON THE MAP, what the hell.

Once at the titular ruins, things go wrong as locals sequester the Scooby gang to the pyramid. You see, the ruins are covered in the vines of a man-eating plant that exhibits some major intelligence. The vines attack and confuse our heroes, picking them off as the movie progresses.

The arrogance I mentioned earlier is manifested most clearly in the character of pre—med Jeff. Being Mr. Future Doctor, his interactions with everyone is that of a smug superiority, When trying to hire a ride out to the ruins, the Mexican (with grumpy dog and beat-up pick-up truck) says “That place is no good.’ Instead of even asking what he means, he just shrugs and smugly offers the guy more money. He tries the same tactic later when the locals start enforcing the quarantine on the kids. It doesn’t work, but he’s not worried because this “doesn’t happen to Americans.”

After having watched this, I can’t see how the vines are really all that scary. The characters do worse horror to each other than the vines ever do. In fact, the vines are more like natural predators, picking off the weak and the sick. Throughout the film, all I kept asking was, “Why haven’t the locals just covered the damn things with a ton of herbicide if they’re such a threat?” Unfortunately, the plot needs the vines, so no herbicide.

This movie could’ve been better if the characters had actually had more personality other than “partygoer”. Other than that, it was an okay flick.

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