Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), his girlfriend Amy (Jena Malone), her friend Stacy (Laura Ramsey) and her boyfriend Eric (Shawn Ashmore) are tempted to leave the idyll of Cancun to trek out to a remote dig, deep in the jungle. Arriving at the temple, the four believe their long journey was worth it. However, a local tribe soon attack and force them to seek refuge at the top of the ruins.
Unclear why the tribesmen refuse to let them leave, they soon discover theyre being quarantined. An ancient evil resides within the temple and once tainted, theres no chance of survival
The Ruins is half travellers will die horror (see also: Paradise Lost, Hostel, Wolf Creek) and half body-horror, playing on the fear of being invaded. Its something of a change from recent cinema: were used to seeing diabolical killers or mutated in-breeds ripping a nubile cast to shreds that its unusual to have to face more insidious fears.
Its this feeling that elevates certain scenes of The Ruins into the realm of sheer nightmare. One cast member in particular goes through one of the most unforgettably horrific journeys from any recent genre offering. Quite, simply this isnt one for the remotely squeamish. Conjuring up instinctive fears of disease and infection, theres something about The Ruins that will stick with you long past the credits.
But perhaps predictably for the genre, its the characters that fail to make as much of an impression. Jena Malones smart girl, who of course never wanted to go in the first place, gains our trust off the bat but soon starts making horror movie mistakes (dont go that way!) and loses our empathy. The rest of the cast are indistinguishable.
Finally, the ending is a failure. Until the last 10 minutes, things are surprisingly break and brutal, making for an unrelenting and extremely violent watch. But then formula kicks in and idiocy takes over.
Slithering onto our screens after a less-than-stellar performance in the US, The Ruins is a tough sell. Despite revolving around a set of attractive, half-nude youngsters, glossily captured as they holiday in South America, once the expected baaaaad situation begins to unfold and the threat is revealed, many will choose to turn off rather than engage. Still, for those who keep their eyes open, they may find their skin genuinely starting to crawl.