A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this gory horror movie features grisly violence, with sound effects and close-up images of broken bones, gashed flesh, and amputation (this last is particularly gruesome, with explicit gore, bone, blood, and sound). In another brutal, very bloody sequence, a girl who's tormented by vines that have invaded her body cuts her leg, torso, and head to pull the plant out. Weapons include arrows, guns, and knives. Girls show lots of skin in early scenes (one appears naked as she's dressing; her breasts are visible in profile, her bottom from the back), and there's a brief shot of a young man's naked bottom from the back. Drinking includes margaritas, beer, and tequila; language includes frequent uses of "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE RUINS offers up yet another group of pretty, white American tourists whose blithe, privileged confidence is about to hit a big snag. Two couples on vacation in Mexico -- Jeff (Jonathan Tucker) and Amy (Jena Malone) and Stacy (Laura Ramsey) and Eric (Shawn Ashmore) -- accept an invitation from Mathias (Joe Anderson), a German traveler they've just met, to check out an "archeological dig." But at the temple deep in the jungle, they find only scary-looking, armed villagers ... and flesh-eating vines. The tourists more or less proceed to get picked off one by one, as much through their own arguments, betrayals, and bad decisions as by the exceedingly insidious and strangely intelligent vine.
Is it any good?
This is a gruesome, stomach-churning film that's not recommended for kids. The disintegrations of the couples' relationships parallel their turns to brutality; their fights and frustrations lead directly to ugly violence. Jeff, an aspiring doctor, diagnoses injuries, decides on "treatments" ("Keep his legs clean," he says of a comrade with a broken back and gashed legs), and protests their situation ("This doesn't happen," Jeff blusters, "Four Americans on vacation don't just disappear"). While the others are less convinced that someone will come save them, they do go along with his decision to amputate the legs of the comrade with the broken back. This leads to excruciating pain and gruesome imagery, as they break the legs with a rock and cut them with a hunting knife.
In another sequence, when one girl believes the vines are inside her body, she begs Jeff to cut them out. Though he agrees to a couple of efforts -- horrified as he pulls out the long, green, trembling cables -- at last he has to stop. "There's no more cutting," he says flatly, "We can't keep cutting." In this, the film achieves something like a metaphor, as the tourists' fears have infected their very beings, vine-like, and their decisions are increasingly ineffective precisely because they're based on fear and ignorance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of grisly horror movies. Do you think they're trying to make a point underneath all the bloodshed? If so, what? What do you think about the trend of tourists as modern slasher movie victims (as opposed to, say, babysitters during the '80s)? Is that a commentary about politics or other bigger issues around the world?
- In theaters: April 4, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: July 7, 2008
- Cast: Jena Malone, Jonathan Tucker, Shawn Ashmore
- Director: Carter Smith
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and gruesome images, language, some sexuality and nudity.
- Last updated: October 10, 2019
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