The DVD of the wayward-tourist-gone-wrong shockfest The Ruins has been released in an extra icky "unrated version." Want to see how it plays out? Check out my review after the leap.


Directed by Carter Smith, The Ruins is based on the juicy, pulp horror thriller of the same name by Scott B. Smith, who also penned the screenplay. Now, I have a hugely troubled relationship with this book, because a) I love pulpy thriller trash -- especially well written ones -- and b) while it is well written, the central conceit of the book is so outlandishly bizarre and dumb, it almost made me toss The Ruins across the bathroom.

The plot: A group of naive young travelers in Mexico go looking for missing friends in the jungle (mmmm... bad idea #1), wind up trespassing on an ancient Mayan temple (bad idea #2), and are imprisoned there by Mayan locals for reasons unknown. NOW COMES THE REALLY DUMB PART, and if you don't want spoilers skip to the next paragraph. Instead of being attacked by Mayan mummies or whatever, they are stalked by... oh boy... vines. Yep, killer vines. With little flowers attached that mimic human voices and cell phones. God, I'm embarrassed just writing that. But the good news is, that even when the vines are creeping into their bodies, one of the girls takes the necessary time to give her boyfriend a handjob. NO, I'M NOT JOKING.

ANYWAY. As dumb as this book is, the film version is actually not half bad. Yes, you have the idiotic monster, but the cast is actually accomplished enough to make you give a crap. Led by the usually nerdy Jenna Malone -- who epitomizes nerdy hotness here -- hunky Jonathan Lucas, and Smallville's Shawn Ashmore (as the lucky boyfriend who receives the handjob), the cast and director minimize the dumber aspects of the book, streamlining the affair into an above-average thriller where you're not automatically rooting for the monster to rip 'em to bits.

In short, though the central dumbness remains, this time I'm going to advise going with the DVD over the book. Wow! I don't believe I've ever said those words before!