One 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 locals 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 . . ."




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