The Ruins
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FAQ Contents

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Ruins can be found here.

While vacationing in Mexico, two American couples -- Jeff (Jonathan Tucker), Amy (Jena Malone), Eric (Shawn Ashmore), and Stacy (Laura Ramsey) -- are invited by German Mathias (Joe Anderson) and Greek Dimitri (Dimitri Baveas) to accompany them to a remote archeological site where Mathias' brother Heinrich and his archeologist girlfriend are encamped. When they reach the site, an ancient pyramid-shaped Mayan temple covered with vines, they are immediately surrounded by local villagers who kill Dimitri and refuse to let the others leave the site. Forced to remain there, they soon come to realize that the vines covering the ruins are carnivorous and that they are trapped.

Yes. The Ruins is a 2006 novel by Scott Smith. Smith also wrote the screenplay.

Eleven miles west of the city of Cob in the northern part of the Yucatn Peninsula in Mexico. For a map of the Yucatn Peninsula, see here. However, the movie itself was filmed in Australia.

No one knows. Since the group could not communicate with the Mayans to learn about the vines and the author did not give the reader any details in the text, the vine's origin is not explained. Jeff tells the others that the vines must have been there for a long, long time because there were no birds or insects in the area so they must have learned not to go there, but this is just a guess on Jeff's part. The vines could also be a recent growth that just showed up a few years ago. One speculation is that the vines evolved to have a taste for blood due to the Mayan sacrifices that took place on the ruins. Another is the old standby -- they came from outer space.

There are three ways that normal plants can reproduce. Most plants reproduce by making seeds. Making seeds requires pollination, and pollination requires animals, birds, insects, etc., to carry the pollen from one plant to another. Since living creatures avoided the vines, pollination between flowers on the vines could only occur by wind transport. Other plants can spread underground by sending runners, like the grasses, or by growing tubers or bulbs, like potatoes and onions. A third method of spreading is by producing offshoots, like vines, that take root wherever they touch ground. As seen in the movie, the natives don't hesitate to kill one of their own children, even after only a brief contact with the plants, suggesting that the plants produce seeds, pollen, spores or some kind of offshoot that can enter the body through skin contact. This process may normally be slow, judging by the slow growth of the plants on the clothes of the characters. However, it might speed up considerably if the spores enter the body via a bleeding wound, as experienced by Mathias and Stacy. The plants then have direct access to water and nutrients in the blood and grow full-size within a few days.

A prior victim of the plants. She tries to use her cell phone to call for help, but then she is suddenly grabbed by the plants. The next time we see her is when Stacy and Amy descend into the temple, searching for the ringing phone. She is the half-digested girl holding the cracked cell phone.

One possible explanation is that the natives didn't want to be murderers and were only there to keep the group from escaping and spreading the vines. This is suggested by the fact that the natives only kill Jeff after he gets too far from the ruins, appearing as if he wants to escape. As the plants drag him away, the native leader could just simply let him be digested, but he seems to grant Jeff a 'mercy kill'. Another explanation is that the natives saw the vines as some sort of religious beings and/or it was their duty to "feed" the vines. Still other explanations are that (1) the vines were like vampires and could only feed on live flesh and blood (which is unlikely, given that both Mathias and Eric were dead and still seen being dragged away by the plants), or (2) once the vines were alerted to Amy's presence (when she stepped on one), the vines would have spread in search of their prey and the natives were trying to contain them as best as they could.

A Mayan dialect. The Mayan language family is a group of some 30 or more related languages spoken today by over 6 million people. The largest populations of Maya speakers can be found in the Mexican states of Yucatn, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Chiapas and in the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.

For various reasons, Mayan culture began to decline nearly 2,000 years ago, most particularly during the later years of the first millenium A.D. Mesoamrica's native populations suffered a further blow from diseases such as smallpox, influenza, and measles brought by Spanish explorers in the mid-16th century. During the next 100 years, 90 percent of the native populations were killed off. The remaining 10 percent assimilated and, although their culture was destroyed, their descendents can still be found in various places in Mexico and Central America. For a detailed timeline of the Mayan civilization, see here.

Septicemia or, more commonly, "blood poisoning." It's a condition where infectious bacteria get into the blood and rapidly spread throughout a person's body. If not treated, the person can go into septic shock. Half of all cases of septicemia result in death.

After seeing the movie, many viewers have suggested that the group should have used their liquor to burn the vines. Outside of the obvious fact that, if they burned down all the vines, it wouldn't have been much of a movie, several reasons have been suggested as to why such a plan would not have worked. First of all, green plants don't burn. They need to be dried out before they can catch fire. Second, the group didn't have the resources to start a fire large enough to burn all the plants inside and surrounding the temple. Third, when Amy and Stacy were down in the shaft, the vines grabbed the torches out of their hands with no problem. The fire didn't hurt them. Fourth, even if they somehow set the vines ablaze, they'd probably be engulfed by the flames. If they tried to escape, the Mayans would probably kill them anyway. Fifth, the plants would grow back quickly, just as it grows on their clothes in a matter of hours. Trying to burn all the vines in the area just wasn't a viable plan. Napalm, Agent Orange, or even plain old Roundup might have done the trick, but the group wasn't carrying any of that stuff.

Who is to say that they hadn't already tried and been unsuccessful at it? First of all, the vines were growing everywhere, including deep down underground in the shaft. Even if the surface vines could have been burned down, it's likely that the underground plants would simply resurface. Secondly, fire isn't the be-all/end-all solution for getting rid of unwanted plants. For example, bamboo can be burned right down to the ground year after year and still come back. Jack pine requires fire to open its cones so that the seeds can get out, so fire is actually beneficial for helping the plant to spread. Native prairies relied on occasional fires to sustain the native plants and destroy invading weeds and trees. In rural areas, controlled burning is often used in the fall to burn down standing weeds in ditches along the road or in fields so that uncontrolled fires can't spread through the countryside. The following spring, all those plants come back as usual. Some plants can even be more dangerous when burned. Poison oak releases the poison into the air, causing severe reactions and respiratory problems in people far downwind. It's even possible that burning the vines will cause them to spread over a much greater area and/or "take root" in the lungs when someone breathes the smoke. In short, burning the vines might not have stopped them, and the natives might already have figured this out.

Salt inhibits plant growth. Salt is also used in magical practices to draw circles to either contain demons and evil spirits or to keep them away, because evil spirits (the vines?) supposedly can't cross over salt.

Good idea, but let's look at the logistics. Salt isn't easily obtained in a jungle, although it could be procured from ocean water. However, check this link to a map of the Yucatan Peninsula and locate Cob. According to the book the ruins are located 11 miles west of Cob, and Cob is not a coastal city. How are some natives with their bicycles and burros going to be able to process enough salt from the ocean, transport it some 30-40 miles to the ruins, and then fill the shaft and cover the hill and ruins with salt?

Amy tossed down some vines that hit a Mayan boy, and he was shot because of it. The Mayans wouldn't let that happen again. If the group started tossing vines, they'd be shot down in seconds.

This was never explained either in the book or the movie. Some reasons that have been suggested are that the native Mayans (1) don't want the vines to spread beyond the temple, (2) consider the vines and the ruins sacred such that, once a person touches the vines, he or she must be sacrificed, and (3) the Mayans and the vines have a truce: you don't eat us, and we'll give you anyone who is unfortunate enough to stumble upon your temple.

Most viewers think it was put in the movie to drive home the point that the Mayans weren't just killing foreigners. They were going to kill anyone, even themselves, who came in contact with the vines.

The first to go is Dimitri, shot with an arrow in the chest by a Mayan and then killed by a bullet in the face by another. Second is Mathias, who breaks his back falling down the shaft and then his legs are stripped away of flesh by the vines, which forces the group to amputate them. He is finally suffocated by the vines at night and dies. Third is Eric, stabbed in the heart by Stacy. Fourth is Stacy. While going down the shaft, she cuts her leg. The following night, she finds the vine crawling in the skin around the wound. She then becomes obsessed with getting it out. After cutting so much of her skin, she finally asks Amy to kill her. Fifth is Jeff, shot with arrows by the villagers.

We never see it happen on screen, but a deleted scene shows her body lying dead on the ground with the knife stabbed in her heart and with Amy crying uncontrollably. The puddle of blood that Jeff uses to disguise Amy as a corpse is probably Stacy's blood.

Realizing that they will both eventually die if they stay there, Jeff makes an escape plan with Amy. First, he smears Stacy's blood all over her, then carries her down the steps to the bottom of the temple while the villagers watch. He places Amy's body on the ground, kisses her, and begins to address the villagers while slowly walking around the base of the temple, drawing the villagers' attention away from Amy. In his babbling, he introduces himself and then introduces Amy, saying her name loudly. Suddenly, Amy gets up and starts running. The villagers react by shooting three arrows into Jeff and then going after Amy. Amy makes it to Heinrich's jeep, starts it up, and drives away. In the final scene, Dimitri's two Greek friends arrive at the ruins.

Yes. In fact, there were three endings shot. On the DVD (released 8 July, 2008), the movie ending has Amy getting away in the jeep. As she drives off, there is a close-up of her face, and the vines can be seen under the skin around her right eye. Two other endings are presented as deleted scenes. In the ending called "Original Theatrical Ending", Amy drives off in the jeep, but no vines can be seen on her face in the close-up. In the "Alternate Ending," Amy also gets away, but there is an addition scene set in a cemetery. A groundskeeper hears a ringing noise, kneels down in front of Amy's grave, and starts to examine one of the red flowers growing on it. The flower appears to be whistling the same tune that the groundskeeper was just whistling.

The novel's ending is very different from the movie. The last survivor in the novel is Stacy. She descends to the bottom of the hill and sits there, the Mayans keeping their eyes on her. She takes several swallows of tequila, then slits her wrists intending to leave her dead body on the path into the ruins as a warning to others. As the vines come snaking toward her to slurp up her blood, the Mayans begin to break their camp. The vines then cover her and drag her off the path to finish the job. Three days later, the Greeks arrive, accompanied by some Brazilians. The path to the ruins is easy to find, having been well-used the past few days. As they approach the hill, they notice a young Mayan girl jumping up and down, waving at them. She runs off into the jungle. They start up the hill. By the time the first horseman arrives, they are already halfway up the hill, calling Pablo's name.

Somewhat. The vocal abilities of the vines were toned down for the movie. In the book, they can create full sentences using various words they heard; in the movie, you really only hear them mimic laughter (in the very beginning), the ringing cell phone, noises that made Stacy think Eric and Amy had sex, and Stacy's pleas to kill herself.

Yes. The official website can be found here.

Several people have commented that The Ruins reminds them of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (2008), in which plant-life revolts against pollution and global warming by releasing toxins against human-life. If carnivorous plants are your thing, The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and its musical remake, Little Shop of Horrors (1986), introduces Audrey II, an alien plant that needs to feed on human blood. Another movie that's been mentioned is The Day of the Triffids (1962), in which alien spores arrive on earth in a meteor shower and grow into plants that can walk around and feed on humans. The portmanteau movie Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) contains a segment in which Alan 'Fluff' Freeman does battle with a homicidal garden plant. Other movies that have been mentioned include Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!, which needs no explanation, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and its three remakes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Body Snatchers (1993) and The Invasion (2007), in which plantlike pods produce perfect duplicates of humans that replace them while they sleep.

The unrated version of Ruins runs approximately 3 minutes longer than the well-known theatrical version and features not only some minor story extensions but also a longer amputation sequence and other prolonged violent shots. Furthermore an alternative ending has been included. A detailed comparison between both versions can be found here.


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