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The Ruins

Promotional poster
Directed by Carter Smith
Produced by Ben Stiller (executive)
Chris Bender
Written by Novel and screenplay:
Scott Smith
Starring Jonathan Tucker
Jena Malone
Shawn Ashmore
Laura Ramsey
Joe Anderson
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Editing by Jeff Betancourt
Studio Spyglass Entertainment
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures
Release date(s) April 4, 2008
Running time 90 minutes (Theatrical Version)
94 minutes (Unrated Director's Cut)
Country Australia
United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Gross revenue $22,375,067

The Ruins is a 2008 horror film directed by Carter Smith and starring Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey and Joe Anderson. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Scott Smith, who also wrote the screenplay. This is also the first non-comedy related movie that Ben Stiller executive produced.



In a dark, dungeon-like room, a young woman tries to call for help on her cellphone. Unable to receive a signal, she is dragged away by an unseen force.

Two young American couples (Jeff and Amy, and Eric and Stacy) are vacationing in Mexico. At the pool of their hotel they make friends with a German tourist, Mathias. They decide to help Mathias look for his brother Heinrich. Heinrich met a female archaeologist and followed her to an archaeological dig at a remote Mayan ruin in the jungle where she was working. The next morning Jeff, Amy, Eric, Stacy, Mathias and Demetri (a Greek tourist who they also met at their hotel) take a bus to a remote village on their way to the Mayan ruin.

The location of the ruin is shown only on a crude map that Heinrich drew before departing. After the long bus ride the group arrives at the remote village and takes a worn-down taxi to the trail destination as marked on the map. However, before they leave in the taxi, the driver attempts to persuade them away from this particular area, which they oblige and Demetri pays off with the taxi driver. Soon they arrive at the trail head, where they see a jeep (owned by Heinrich), they then hike the rest of the way to the ruins site.

Shortly after they arrive, enraged Mayan villagers appear armed with guns and bows and arrows. When Amy inadvertently steps into the vines covering the ruin, the Mayans aim their weapons at them. When Demetri tries to calm the situation down, showing the Mayans Amy was merely taking photos of them he is hit with an arrow just below his heart and then shot in the head. The Mayans then force the others to climb up to the temple roof.

There the five find an abandoned camp with two tents (a orange and blue tent) and a mineshaft in the center. Eric and Mathias are the only two with cellphones, Eric's has no signal and the Mayans had previously stole Mathias'. At the bottom of the mine shaft, they can hear a cellphone ringing. Mathias is then lowered into the shaft but the rope breaks as he is 30 feet from the bottom; Mathias falls into the darkness of the shaft and hits the bottom with a thud. Amy then descends the temple steps to try to reason with the Mayans. When she angrily throws a clump of vine at them and hits a young Mayan boy, the others promptly kill him. Later Stacy and Amy descend into the shaft to help Mathias and find the cellphone. However, the phone becomes the least of their worries as Mathias has broken his back. Meanwhile Jeff and Eric rig up a backboard and the paralyzed Mathias is lifted out of the mineshaft by Amy and Stacy.

The next morning, Stacy finds that a tendril of the vine has crept into a wound on her leg she sustained when she was dropped into the mineshaft. And even worse, the vines have wrapped themselves around Mathias's lower legs and have eaten into them, down to the bone. The cellphone is then heard again, and Stacy and Amy are lowered down the shaft to find it. In a small, vine-covered room they find the body of the young woman and her phone (from the first scene of the film), which is broken. The flowers are vibrating and screeching, reproducing the ring of the cell phone. The vines attack them but they manage to escape. Stacy is convinced the vines are alive, and that they are growing inside her. The group realizes that the vines are predatory and that the Mayans are actually trying to keep them quarantined and have salted the earth all around the hill. Jeff insists that "Americans on vacation don't just disappear" and that help is on the way.

With Mathias' condition deteriorating, Jeff amputates both of his legs. Stacy becomes jealous when she sees Eric comforting Amy, saying that she overheard them having sex. When Jeff comes to try to defuse the situation, Stacy calls Amy's fidelity into question. While the four of them argue, the vines suffocate Mathias. It is at this point the group realizes the vines and their flowers are able to replicate their sounds.

Later, Stacy finds that the vines are now growing inside her, as vines are seen moving across her back, leg and even her forehead. Jeff is able to cut out two but stops after realizing the futility of his efforts. Stacy claims that she can feel more inside of her but the others reluctantly deny her pleas to remove them, instead saying that she will be fine in an effort to comfort her. While the others sleep, Stacy sneaks out of the tent and begins to cut the vines out herself. When Eric tries to stop her she swipes at him and stabs him through his chest. As the vines move in to take Eric's body, Stacy's cries to be put out of her misery. Jeff removes the knife from Eric's body and kills Stacy.

Realizing that they will both eventually die, Jeff makes a plan for Amy to escape. He carries her down to the bottom of the temple and lays her on the ground making it appear as if she has died. While distracting the Mayans to allow Amy to escape, Jeff is shot. As the vines slowly reach out to him, the Mayan leader shoots him in mercy. Meanwhile, Amy flees the rest of the Mayans, and safely makes it to the jeep and escapes. The screen goes black leading to the final scene where Demetri's Greek friends are seen moving towards the temple, repeating the cycle for the ruins.

Alternate endings

One alternate ending shows Amy driving away from the ruins, suddenly the vines appear under the skin of her face and her eye fills with blood, implying that the vines got to her after all. The scene then cuts to a cemetery where a caretaker is walking among the headstones whistling Frère Jacques. He hears the same tune coming from Amy's grave. Around the headstone lie a few of the same red flowers, and as the caretaker reaches for one, the vine grabs his arm.



Filming in Australia completed on February 7, 2008, and the film was released April 4, 2008.[1]

Release and box office

The Ruins was released in the US on April 4, 2008. In the US box office it debuted at #5 making $8,003,421. After 3 weeks it exited the top 10.[2] As of July 7, 2008 it has grossed $17,432,844 domestically and $22,321,810 worldwide.[3] Despite not being a huge hit, the film is still considered a success, as it made back its production budget ($8 million) in its opening weekend.

In Australia, The Ruins was originally planned to release on April 17, 2008. Then the release was pushed to July 31, 2008 which was then pushed to August 7, 2008. These plans were scrapped when Paramount pulled out of distributing it to theatres, but however has not scrapped plans for a December 4, 2008 DVD release. The premiere in Queensland was on June 28, 2008.

Critical reception

The film received generally mixed reviews from critics. As of February 12, 2009, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 45% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 77 reviews.[4]

Among critics who gave the film favorable reviews, James Berardinelli gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "The Ruins does what a good psychological horror movie should do: rely on tension rather than gore to achieve its aims. This bleak, edgy motion picture isn't concerned with appealing to the masses that flock to multiplexes to enjoy the spatterings of the latest serial slasher or the hollow weirdness of a PG-13 ghost story."[5]

DVD release

The Ruins was released on DVD on July 8, 2008 in both R-rated and unrated versions.[6] It debuted at #4 on the DVD Sales Chart, selling 189,128 copies. As of August 3, 2008, The Ruins has sold 343,414 copies.[7] The R-rated edition includes a commentary by director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt, three featurettes (Making The Ruins, Creeping Death, Building The Ruins), additional scenes (Rain, Celebration, Going Over The Escape Plan, Alternate Ending), and trailers. The unrated edition includes the theatrical cut and extra material, and also an alternate ending and optional commentary with additional scenes. An unrated Blu-ray edition is also available with identical features.[8]


External links



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