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The Ruins

A holiday horror story: Don't stray off the beaten path.

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Five tourists in Mexico go off the map to explore an ancient ruin deep in the jungle, and find themselves in serious -- and seriously weird -- trouble. Carter Smith directs this horror thriller, adapted from the Scott B. Smith novel that kept readers frantically flipping pages while the vacationers tried to outwit an aggressive and preternaturally skilled man-eating plant. Director Smith does fairly well by this B-movie material; just like the novel, the ridiculous premise is sustained and made fraught by taut storytelling and a good grasp of the psychological terror. (There are also some gruesome field-surgery scenes.) Too bad, then, that the film lacks the cojones to tell the book's harrowing story, opting instead for an unsatisfying loophole of an ending. (AH) [capsule review]

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