27 June 2008

THE RUINS (Dir. Carter Smith, 2008, US) - Instantly forgettable cinema

Why is it that virtually every Hollywood horror film that comes along these days is instantly forgettable? I guess, the same goes for most of the below par film making that has been coming our way during the summer season with films like The Happening, The Hulk, The Love Guru, and many more all meeting a sudden death by film critics. Nick James, the editor of Sight & Sound, in the current issue talks briefly about the influence that the Guardian film critic, Peter Bradshaw, now holds over public opinion concerning specialised cinema and perhaps even major Hollywood blockbusters. If this is true then maybe we are seeing a shift back towards film critics being able to make a difference in what movies we see each week, and perhaps this signals an end to our over reliance on the Internet for an alternative source of information.

The Ruins is another film that builds on the recent topical success of movies in which American tourists are subjected to all kinds of persecution and violence; films like Hostel and Turista come to mind - both very bad films and not at all worthy of recommendation. The Ruins is typical of the level of contempt that affects much of Hollywood film making today. Not only is the film ridiculous in it's concept of flesh eating plants, it takes the narrative of a group of under sexed teenagers who learn that the test of survival is something that will consume them completely. The film not only ridicules once again with great vigour another group of 'foreign' people for their strange, mystical traditions, it also seems to go to great lengths to underline how vacant scriptwriters working in Hollywood have become profoundly uninspired artists, depending on novels and books for ideas, many of which are simply unfilmable and boring. The Ruins gives us ninety minutes of hysterical and obnoxious American teenagers screaming and shouting at one another whilst the audience spectator is expected to hang around and feel tense. Not only do you not want to sympathise with any of these characters, part of you at one point begins to relish the thought of hurrying to the end of the film. The performances amount to nothing than a series of earnest looks and exchanges between actors who have invested zero percentage in trying to bring their characters to life.

The overall result is absolute below par cinema and another reminder of Hollywood's fixation with high concept and the annoying teen market. Stay away from this film, and any other recent Hollywood film that thinks it is somehow using the tourist idea as a metaphor for dealing with anxieties to do with Americans abroad; this allegorical interpretation being repeated by many film critics is simply rubbish.

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