The Ruins raises the Venus flytrap to a new level. In Carter Smiths’s adaptation of Scott Smith’s novel, you don’t have to stumble into the man-eating plant. It will come after you. Even lure you down a deep, dank shaft to be its amuse bouche.
Over all, the movie was decent. Like Exorcist, I felt the best scares were from what the people did to each other. The leg amputation scene was superb in its ability to combine bone crunching and flesh sawing. Also, when Stacy cuts herself up to locate the plants growing inside her, the visuals deliver.
The plot drags in the beginning, and this is due mostly to the Scott Smith’s narrative. I read the novel (as much as I could get through). The concept was intriguing, but I finally had to put it down. I kept waiting for the horror to materialize, but it lingered on the Dawson Creek dynamics of the four central characters. Carter Smith (the director, and as far as I can tell, no relation) was able to shore up the action by cutting much of the melodrama in the first act. Even so, he (or possibly the studio) added the obligatory scare scene at the start to remind the viewer that yes, you walked into the right movie theater. This is a horror movie.
If you did read the novel, you’ll find that many of the character’s roles are switched (Stacy with Amy) and much of the rambling action tightened for film. The ending was improved somewhat. Instead of having Stacy kill herself as a warning, she escapes into a Hollywood horror ending.
The vines themselves are much faster moving in the film, as they should be for a horror flick. Their appearance, however, was distracting. They bore an uncanny resemblance to cannabis leaves. There needed to be a line about smoking them in the film script.
Now, if you really want to read a great short about man-eating plants try Michael A. Arnzen’s masterpiece of flash fiction, “How to Grow a Man-Eating Plant” from Pseudopod. This is a must read. I’ve never read anything funnier, and it’s actually a piece of flash fiction with an ending. Pseudopod is also free and ports the stories direct to iTunes.
Check out wikipedia for a complete summary of Scott Smith’s novel. Internet Movie Database has a full synopsis of the film (with spoilers). For Arnzen’s flash fiction, just listen to it yourself. It’s only a few minutes of your time.