Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Ruins

Okay, so first things first... MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

I know... doye... but people get pissy if you don't put a warning like that up and I so don't need to hear about it from a bunch of nerds that stink like Cheetos and frantic masturbation. So consider yourself warned.
Anyhoo, The Ruins.
If you liked the book... or loved the book, in my case... you're going to have big, honkin' issues with the movie. It's as plain as that. Even though the screenplay was written by the novel's author (one Scott Smith), it's way different; separate characters are combined into one, things that happen to one character in the book happen to other characters in the movie, the entire plot is wildly condensed from 500 pages to roughly 90 minutes, etc. Now, some of these things are perfectly understandable, particularly in the case of the last item on that list. There's no way that a director could tell the book's entire story outside of a mini-series format, and even then it probably wouldn't come off right; "The Ruins" is largely a work of psychological torment and that's a hard sell on the big or small screen without getting boring, no matter what. Condensing is the only way to go.
However, that being said, the first of my two main problems with The Ruins is, in fact, the pacing... the movie quite simply moves too fast. Despite strong performances by the entire cast, you're not given enough time to get to know any of them. Thus, when shit starts going South, you don't really care one way or other about their plight beyond the fact that, yes, it is rather gross to see a dude get his legs chopped off. Gut reactions to gore aside, you're really not going to feel much of anything for the characters. I do want to stress, though, that the acting was uniformly excellent; a few steps above the usual teen-horror fare. It just would have been nice to get to see them do their respective things, performance-wise, for a little bit longer.
My other main problem? The ending. The ending of the book is motherfucking bleak. Like, no one gets out alive, more people are going to die, the world is a place of unfathomable cruelty... that sort of denouement. The movie's ending isn't, so much... it's a very, "Oooh, could there be a sequel? I don't know, let's see what the box office receipts look like" kind of thing. I mean, yes, just about everyone dies, but one person does get away and literally drives off into the sunset (really, The Ruins... REALLY???) and it kind of tanks the whole idea that this secret, evil-covered ruins has remained hidden for centuries, when all it takes to outwit it and it's keepers are a couple of clever teens. Please. I'm not saying that every horror movie has to end on a down note, but come the fuck on... the story is clearly set up as a no-win situation... an unsolvable sandwich of death on both sides and torture in the middle... and then they wrote in a win for absolutely no reason, thus changing the title of the film from The Ruins to The Ruined. At least as far as plot integrity goes.

Also, the movie's essentially about killer vines. This looks better in your mind than it does when rendered in CGI. Just sayin'.
Now, overall, taking my love of the book out the equation and focusing only on what was presented to me in celluloid, was this a bad movie? Nope. In fact, it was pretty good as far as modern horror flicks go. Good acting, decent gore, a few good chills... other than the pacing issues, it's solid. Had I not gone in with the book on the brain, I'd have loved the pants off of The Ruins. In fact, even though the ending is still kinda weak sauce whether you're bringing literary baggage in or not, I'd heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet and has no plans to read the source material.
I mean, the book's way better and you really should go for that and ignore the movie but, hey... I get that some folks just aren't readers.

So there ya go. Overall grades:
If you've read the book: C-
If you haven't read the book: B+


Blogger jason quinones said...

reading what you wrote here i was actually wondering if you liked or saw stephen king's the mist??

i never the book but i loved the mist for all the reasons you just mentioned as to what would've made the ruins better.
the mist had a bleak ending and great character acting and exposition so you give a shit if they die!!

unfortunatley i was the only guy in the theater that liked it! wifey hated it("tooo long") and everybody else was groaning or moaning about the end and some chicks in sitting in front of us were laughing!!

i'll peep the ruins on dvd.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

I've read "The Mist" (and loved it, madcore) but I haven't seen the movie yet. It's literally the next thing coming from Netflix, though, so I'll be seeing it soon

11:20 PM  
Anonymous chris w said...

I actually picked up the book based solely on your recommendations in this here blog and I loved it immensely. I haven't read a horror novel that creeped me out that thoroughly since I read Salem's Lot and slept with a rosary by my bed (to be fair, I was really young and still indoctrinated in the Catholic church).
I'm disappointed that the movie is getting pretty negative reviews as I was looking forward to it. But just like your review, everyone else is comparing it to the book. So maybe that's the problem.
But I think just because I haven't been to the movie theater in a while (it's been a dry couple of months movie-wise) and particularly haven't seen a good horror movie in the theaters in a while, I'm still going to check this out.

2:00 AM  
Anonymous girlfriend said...

I'm usually a total angry nerd about stuff being adapted from text to movie/play. For instance, the adaptation of Wicked taught me what true hate was.

However I can say this about The Ruins... Even though they changed the ending, I have to give props for the clever and interesting way they did it. It was a cop out, sure, but it wasn't a boring cop out.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Chris... Oh yeah, totally go see it. I mean, especially when compared to the usual horror fare that farts it's way into theaters these days, The Ruins was pretty top shelf. I just had a hard time seperating the filmed version from the written; I can see other people not having the same problem.

Girlfriend... The ending was clever, I'll give it that. If I must. Also, I remember having to just about forcibly restrain you from attacking the stage after Wicked. Good times...

8:18 AM  
Blogger NYCPonderings Chick said...

I havent seen this yet, but may not see it now...and i agree with girfriend, i almost always hate the adaptation of things

9:18 AM  

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