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The Ruins 

The Ruins is better acted and photographed, with more originality in its gross-outs, than recent torture porn standards. In this newfound effectiveness, it still doesn’t get over one major hurdle: It doesn’t have anything to say. The “fun” ordeal takes the usual look at human folly: People sometimes can’t think rationally when they’re being put through hell. I’m not sure why that’s interesting, but it’s the subject of so many movies that viewers must love the feeling of superiority from knowing they can think more rationally than people who are hallucinating or having their legs amputated by a rock. Based on its screenwriter Scott Smith’s novel, the film follows two white couples in Mexico who check out an archaeological site. Unable to leave because of trigger-happy locals, they’re stuck on a hill where the plants have a taste for human flesh. This is what 20-somethings get for never wanting to stick to the usual tourist traps. It doesn’t amount to much, but give credit: It’s sick and, within its despairing subgenre, it’s the brightest kid in its class.

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Vol 26, No 38
February 14, 2019

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