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'The Ruins' takes horror films to new depths

Amy (Jena Malone, left) and Stacy (Laura Ramsey) find terror in a Mayan temple in The Ruins.

DreamWorks

Amy (Jena Malone, left) and Stacy (Laura Ramsey) find terror in a Mayan temple in The Ruins.

This week's horror movie — doesn't every week have one? — is The Ruins (R), an appropriate title for the status of this formerly magnificent genre.

Once again, we have supple hunks and nubile honeys vacationing somewhere evil. You'd think travel agents would have a list of such locales by now, to steer customers away. Corpses are lousy for return business.

Rather than sticking to Cancun's beachfront debauchery, a group of friends join a German tourist named Mathias (Joe Anderson) on an archaeological dig deep in the jungle. Bad move. Mathias is searching for his brother who disappeared, leaving a map to a Mayan village that isn't as deserted as he believed.

Not only are there unfriendly natives but also some downright nasty plants growing there. These flowered vines kill intruders, luring them by mimicking human sounds. Sometimes they even grow underneath flesh, eating their prey from the inside out.

The Ruins is written by Scott B. Smith based on his novel, after doing the same a few years ago with A Simple Plan, one of 1998's best films. Don't expect another Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay this time.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

'The Ruins' takes horror films to new depths 04/02/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 4, 2008 6:04am]

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