can easily picture novelist Scott Smith thinking, “I’m going to build
myself a swimming pool when I sell this baby to Hollywood” when he sat
down at his word processor to churn out The Ruins . . .
In fact, The Ruins is so tailor-made for a movie
adaptation that it comes as absolutely no surprise that DreamWorks
(Paramount) has bought the rights to Scott’s novel and that the movie is
expected in theatres in April 2008.
Consisting of mostly a cast of young
unknowns such as Shawn Ashmore (X-Men: The Last
Stand) and Jonathan Tucker (The Black Donnellys), The Ruins
is directed by unknown director Carter Smith (no relation
we think), who began his career doing fashion photography.
The plot follows the horror movie template closely. We
have a bunch of young Americans vacationing in Mexico when they meet up
with a fellow tourist, a German named Mathias. Mathias’ brother, who was
also on holiday with him, has run off with a newly acquired girlfriend to
work at an archaeological dig in the Mexican interior. Mathias is worried
because he hasn’t heard from his brother since and besides, the date on their
return ticket is fast approaching. Thus the group of Americans and a Greek
tag along with Mathias to find his brother. It’d be a fun little outing in
the Mexican jungle, they reckon. Little do they realize that they are in
fact fictional characters stuck in a horror novel . . .
They should have seen the signs though: unfriendly
— a movie staple which was a cliché as long ago as that pub in An American Werewolf
— dot their route to the archaeological dig. The archaeological dig
is located on a hill covered by a strange vine-like plant with blood red
flowers. Unsurprisingly it is deserted save for some corpses and before
you can say Turistas, our heroes are stuck on the hill
— besieged by hostile bow- and gun-wielding local villagers who do
not want them to leave the hill. Needless to say, there is something on
the hill killing them off one by one . . .
The line-up of characters sounds like a setup for a
joke (“two American couples, a Greek and a German enter a bar, see…”), but
follows the horror handbook on movie stereotypes closely. We have the
enigmatic foreigner, the weakling, the comic relief foreigner, the slut,
the good girl and the strong hero. No kewpie doll for guessing who buys it
first . . .
Next: "As far as
so-called airport reads go, The Ruins isn’t too bad actually . . ."