Young performers save film from The Ruins

by Beacon Staff • April 2, 2008

Nominated for the adaptation of his own novel, A Simple Plan, Scott Smith's newest script is based on his work, The Ruins.,What do you get when you add four beautiful youngsters, a former fashion photographer as director and a script from a bestselling novel by an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter? The new horror film, The Ruins.

Nominated for the adaptation of his own novel, A Simple Plan, Scott Smith's newest script is based on his work, The Ruins. The film follows four people on their vacation in Cancun. Amy, (Jena Malone, Stepmom, Donnie Darko), and Stacy, Laura Ramsey (She's the Man), decide to take a break from everyday living and bring their two boyfriends, Jeff (Jonathan Tucker) and Eric, (Shawn Ashmore of the X-Men films), for a short holiday in a modern paradise.

As their vacation comes to an end, the foursome decides to visit the Mayan ruins where they uncover something deadly living among the ancient structures. Fulfilling what must be a horror movie rule, audiences witness young people go from perky and pretty to terrorized and terrified.

But alas, studio horror movies hardly ever rationalize themselves with realism and, consequently, neither does fashion photography, which is where director Carter Smith got his start. It was after DreamWorks viewed Smith's first and only film, an award-winning short entitled Bugcrush, that they asked him to take the helm of The Ruins.

But will the equation of a first time feature-length director, a screenplay from a writer who hasn't had a film project for a decade and some talented youths add up to a horrifying tale worthy of joining the ranks among horror film classics such as Hitchcock's Psycho and Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street? Or will it simply equal another cheesy horror flick? On April 4, these questions will be laid to rest when The Ruins drops into theatres across the country.

To answer other questions surrounding The Ruins and its filmmakers, The Beacon interviewed a few of the film's stars.

Berkeley Beacon: What was the first thing that drew you to the script of The Ruins?

Shawn Ashmore: I first got the script and then, I was told that it was a DreamWorks film and I was kind of interested. My agent sent me Carter Smith's short film called Bugcrush. I watched it and that's what made me interested in taking a real look at the script.

I loved the short film-it was creepy and not too stylized. It had a real sense of direction throughout the whole short, so I read the script having that in mind. Seeing his eye and tone and stuff like that-that's what really drew me in. I'd seen [Scott Smith's] A Simple Plan and I really love that film so I looked at the script knowing that this was the sort of pedigree it was coming from, and that's when I really got into it.

Laura Ramsey: I agree. I really looked at Bugcrush and that made me want to look into it further but also I think the role of Stacy was really interesting. It's such a challenge to go from this young energized, happy-go-lucky girl into this whole mess of a person.

[Stacy] is completely obsessed with something that's inside of her; she lashes out at her best friends and I just found it so interesting and a challenge to be able to kind of go there. I wanted to be able to see if I could do it.

BB: Jena, according to the production notes you said that you never really read a lot of genre film scripts but after seeing Bugcrush and envisioning how The Ruins might look through Carter's strange goggles, you realized there was an element of genre subversion. After completing The Ruins do you feel that the movie is genre-bending and do you think you made the right decision in making the film?

Jena Malone: Definitely. I'm really proud of the work and I feel like when I watch the film it's kind of hard for me to describe it to an audience. You know, it's suspense, it's thriller-there are intense moments of gore that sort of turn into some horror, but it's not any of that, it's also psychological and it's also twisted and it's also very simple.

So I think that Carter did a really beautiful job of blending and showing something new to an otherwise kind of a stale genre of horror, trying to add a lot of different elements to make it real and tangible and unique.