Whenever I can, I like to see the unrated or director’s cuts of films. Often these cuts are better, because they allow you to see what the director’s initial vision for a project was, before the studio gets a hold of it and make all sorts of unfortunate cuts for marketing reasons or to preserve a certain running time. When home video first arrived on the mass market, the release of an unrated or director’s cut of a film was somewhat of a rarity. Now, with the proliferation of DVD technology, the unrated cut has become as common as the DVD itself. The unrated cut has now turned into one of the biggest marketing ploys in the home entertainment business.
On the keep-case note of director Carter Smith’s The Ruins, it explains that the unrated DVD contains “scenes too intense for theaters.” These few minutes of extended footage are mostly bloody, graphic, and up-close, which in Blu-ray’s clearer, sharper high definition only made my stomach turn all the more. It didn’t make for a better film. I even got the feeling this footage may have been shot just for the sole purpose of puffing up the DVD, not because it enhanced the filmmaker’s creative vision.
The premise of The Ruins is fairly simplistic. A group of college students–Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Amy (Jena Malone), Eric (Shawn Ashmore), and Stacy (Laura Ramsey)–all in their early twenties, are vacationing on the Mexican coast. They meet a personable German tourist named Mathias (Joe Anderson) who tells them about an archaeological dig his brother went to check out. His brother left a map. Would the four Americans like to join him and a friend as he goes to see some cool ancient Mayan artifacts?
They trek through the jungle and find a ruined Mayan pyramid. Suddenly, they’re surrounded by angry Mayan’s with pistols, rifles, bows, and arrows. They kill Mathias’ friend almost immediately. The remaining survivors quickly scurry to the top of the pyramid looking for safety, where they find Mathias’s brother’s tent next to a deep hole in the top of the pyramid. So there you have it. The college kids are trapped in the middle of a jungle, presumably surrounded by some very angry Mayans. Then the vines begin to move.
Without giving away specific details, I will say that The Ruins is more gross than scary. People are forced to endure painful injuries, followed by potentially life-saving medical procedures that are arguably worse. The Ruins doesn’t shy away from graphic blood and guts. If you enjoy cringe inducing bloodshed, the unrated blu-ray version of The Ruins belongs in your collection.
The special features start with a standard audio commentary by director Carter Smith and editor Jeff Betancourt. Next, there are three featurettes: “Making The Ruins” (HD), about fourteen minutes; “Creeping Death” (HD), about fifteen minutes; and “Building The Ruins” (HD), about six minutes. Each featurette provides exactly what we expect of it. Then, there are five deleted scenes, most of them with optional director commentary that includes an alternate ending as well as the original theatrical ending.
Last, is a widescreen theatrical trailer (HD). English is the only spoken language; and English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are available, with English captions for the hearing impaired.
view production stills from The Ruins.
View the trailer.