The Ruins

So, out of desperation, we picked the movie that seemed the least likely to suck, and that movie was the Mayan-based horror flick The Ruins. Written by the same guy who wrote A Simple Plan, Scott Smith (who also wrote the screenplay, but with the initial “E” in his name), I figured, well, even if it wasn’t going to be to my liking it probably at least wouldn’t be totally run-of-the-mill.

The first 20-30 minutes? About as totally run-of-the-mill as it could possibly be. We’re introduced to our college-age (natch) characters, off on a last fling in Mexico, somewhere in the vicinity of the old Mayan empire, who are funnin’ and sunnin’ by the pool, on the beach, wherever good times are had.

Then they get the wacky idea to visit a ruin–off the maps! unknown to civilized man! what could possibly go wrong!–and head off into an area where (natch) cell phone signals won’t reach.

You know, back in the ‘90s, there was all this competition focused on providing cellular service, with many companies planning to launch satellites, until they figured out that repeating towers was lots cheaper and, if not nearly as good, as good as they cared to be since they’d probably already decided service wasn’t going to be a primary concern. But just think: If they’d gone satellite, they could have saved a whole bunch of people a lot of trouble.

But I digress. Anyhoo.

(What do you think about using the quote style for digressions? I’m quoting my own rambling consciousness.)

We even get some gratuitous (but not entirely unwelcome) nudity from Laura Ramsey, ensuring her death, and guaranteeing that top biller Jena Malone would be the sole survivor. (That’s a joke, not a spoiler. Or is it?)

As you can imagine, hijinks ensue up on the old Mayan pyramid, and some old Mayans get pissed, and some flesh is rent, and some chick starts screaming…somebody loses an eye…or a leg…maybe both.

I’m not going to give it away, because there was an “oh” moment for me early on when I realized what the “boogen” in this flick is going to be. Let me say I’ve seen a few movies with similar premises and most of them suck in part because of the limitations of the boogen in question.

Yet, surprisingly, the movie actually takes off when it gets to the horror parts. There’s some decent suspense, a few creepy moments, some–well, I don’t scare much in movies, but if I did, I know which couple of scenes would have done it.

The Boy was even pleased, and he is an increasingly tough customer. He’s revising his opinion down a bit over time, but that could just be because he likes being a tough customer. But he’s still defending it as “not stupid”, and that’s high praise indeed.

So, you could do a lot worse, unless you really don’t like horror flicks.

This week is going to be rough; I don’t see a thing playing within 30 miles from my house that a) doesn’t seem steeped in mediocrity; b) I’ve not already seen.

But things should pick up shortly. Forgetting Sarah Marshall looks pretty good, the Chan/Li movie will be disappointing–how could it not be?–but maybe not crushingly so, and I have high (heh) hopes for Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay. It’s stupid humor, yes, but it’s welcome stupid humor, so long as they don’t get political.

And that’s just the majors. Eventually all of last year’s cruft will clean out of the art houses and we’ll start getting some good, fresh stuff again.

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