Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Do you speak French?

I have mentioned before the 'horroretc' podcast ( ) and how much I love it. Well, this week's podcast was all about French horror - so I moved up a few movies already on my Netflix list (and collected my thoughts on one I had already seen) so I could correlate with a few titles Tony and Ted discussed on their brilliant weekly show. Hope that's ok, guys!
First up, "Inside" :


Talk about suffering.
No, seriously - actually talk about suffering.
Ok - this is one of the most disturbing, graphic, unsettling films I have seen in like, many many moons. It starts out slow and reels you into its house of horrors.

'Inside' ("À l'intérieur", in French) is a story about an ill-fated pregnant woman not only dealing with her husband's death and impending childbirth- but a stark-raving mad lunatic who has seen reason to - for lack of a better phrase - steal her child right out of her womb.

A strange concept, to be sure - and I certainly wouldn't recommend this to..... let's see.... anyone at all who isn't a true fan of grisly, revoltingly realistic horror. If you liked Hostel, absolutely pick this up. If your idea of horror is more like The Sixth Sense or maybe even Halloween on your bravest evening - steer clear of this, for sure.
That said - I have to admit, I liked "Inside" alot.

When our little gore-fest starts, Sarah (Alysson Paradis, coincidentally Johnny Depp's future sister-in-law) and her hubby are in a car accident in which he gets the worse end of the deal.
He dies. She was the driver, and has struck another car. She's pregnant, but apparently the baby is alright.

Fast forward a few months - she's now 9 months and ready to pop. Her doctor and her are planning her admission to the hospital for early the next morning (which happens to be Christmas - why on earth would you have a planned birth on Christmas day?). Anyway, She makes plans with her boss so he can drive her to the hospital in the morning and then retreats to her country home to relax and contemplate the impending big event. Depression seems obvious, since her child is fatherless and she is alone.

She hears a knock at the door. When she asks who is there, a woman replies that her car has broken down and she needs to use the phone. Sarah asks her to leave, saying her husband is asleep and she should ask someone else in the neighborhood for help.

At this point, things go all wrong. The woman, it seems, knows Sarah's husband is dead. How does she know that? Sarah has called the cops and they soon arrive but find no sign of the mysterious intruder. They assure her she must have left and say they will keep a patrol car in the area on watch. They leave.

The next chilling scene shows a close up of Sarah on her couch. The camera pans out and you see the outline of the stranger directly behind Sarah. Great atmosphere and camera work. The angles are great and you have a huge sense of impending doom.
Here's where the real gore starts. I cannot elaborate without truly giving everything away, but suffice it to say, it is a bloody mess. Some say there is a 'twist' ending. I prefer to think of it as a reasonable (?) explanation.

And like 'The Orphanage', this movie is subtitled. It's a french movie, folks. And after seeing 'Them' (aka 'Ils') and 'High Tension' ('Haute Tension'), I have come to believe that the French truly know what they are doing as far as making horror is concerned.
Check this one out if you dare. The first twenty minutes or so are pretty untroubled, while the story is being set up. But once it gets moving, it really rolls.

*Just a tidbit: Here in western Pennsylvania, a few years ago - not far from where I live, an obviously disturbed woman kidnapped a neighbor of hers, took her out to the woods, and proceeded to attempt to perform her own style of C-section. She slit the 8 month pregnant woman open - after beating her severely - and tried, unsuccessfully, to steal the child. She fled the scene, leaving the pregnant wounded woman there to die. A passerby (hero) called the police and the victim was flown to a nearby hospital where her baby was delivered safely. The perpetrator was arrested and jailed. She was known to say she just wanted to pass the baby off as her own.
See, this shit really does happen!

Them (a.k.a. Ils)Them (a.k.a. Ils)
Now on to "Ils" (aka 'Them') :

Similar in theme, Ils is a movie about a couple who are terrorized in their home by mysterious hooded strangers.

To start out, in rural Romania, a mother and her daughter are driving down a dark country road and they wreck their van into a utility pole. The mother (apparently knowing something about mechanics!) gets out of the van and lifts the hood, soon telling her daughter to try the engine. The daughter tries a few times to no avail. The girl calls to her mother, who does not respond. The bratty teenager angrily gets out of the van and comes around the open car hood to find her mother has disappeared. She calls out to her over and over, looking into the dark woods that surround the car. Soon she hears strange noises so she jumps back into the van and proceeds to be harrassed by unseen figures until the camera pans out and you see someone in the car attacking the daughter, with an obviously poor outcome.

Next we see our couple, Clementine and Lucas, settling down at their remotely located country home for a cozy weekend. Previously, on the way to the house, Clementine passes a tow truck towing a wrecked van away.

The evening arrives and after dinner Clem and Lucas are hanging out, watching some bad tv. Lucas hears a stray dog outside barking up a storm so he goes out and gives it a few morsels and dispatches it for the night. They decide to head off to bed.

During the night Clem awakens, disturbed by some odd noises outside. She wakes Lucas, and after looking outside and noticing their car has been moved, they get an uneasy feeling.
Telling more would be a spoiler, so let me just say this is a home invasion to put in the record books.
The film isn't really anything mindboggling or different, but the way the story is delivered in tight montages of action is appealing. There is very little gore factor to speak of, which separates it from "Inside" quite a bit. But they are both stories of intruders in the house, and if there is anything scarier than that, I don't know what. To feel so ill at ease in your own home is a frightening thing. The first time you get an actual glimpse of the hooded interlopers who have barged into the couple's lives, it will give you a slight shock, and no doubt fill you with dread of things to come.
There is a twist ending in this movie as well, though I have to admit I thought the final 20 minutes or so were a bit blase - they seemed borrowed from so many other films I have already seen. However, when you finally see the home invaders it is quite a heavy handed realization.
One of the final scenes with Clem in it is memorable.
Both movies work well at making tense moments nearly unbearable, but I have to admit I think 'Ils' is a bit better at setting up the fear factor than 'Inside'... Both are frightening, but in different ways.

I would suggest seeing both. I saw them within one day of each other and this makes a nice contrast.

High Tension UnratedHigh Tension Unrated
Ahhh.... High Tension - what an interesting movie to say the least.

Also known as Haute Tension in France, this gory thriller had me going pretty good.
There are so many discussions about this movie's ending that you could probably fill an entire book of debunking myths and falsities.

When I first heard about this movie, I couldn't wait to see it. I had to wait awhile even after I had bought it, as my hubby just isn't crazy about subtitles or dubbing.
Finally, he was away for a fishing weekend and the DVD player was all mine.

Yes, I watch these kind of movies by myself all the time. And I even listen to the movie score for Psycho while showering, I'm that weird.

Anyway, I loved the beginning.

Marie (Cécile De France) has come to her friend Alex's secluded house in the country to study for final exams.

It isn't long before they are all headed to bed, with Marie getting the attic guest room.
Soon after all is quiet and everyone is settled in, a mysterious stranger knocks on the door and when Alex's father answers the door, everything takes a horrible turn.

Marie hears a ruckus and wanders down the stairs, only to see a horrific, gory sight.
From then one, the middle part of the film is just body after body piling up. I hate to spoil things, but it is just a bloody mess.
The same exact comment could be made for the final act in this extremely tense and satisfying (up to this point) movie. The ending just left me completely taken aback.
Aghast at the sheer silliness of what this film turns into, I still have to recommend it because of the first two-thirds of the film. It is just plain scary. High Tension is the perfect title.

But that ending..... Oh my. Nothing can stop the animosity I felt towards the writers, producers, and the great director, Alexandre Aja, after this debacle.
But hey, French horror has made a name for itself. They really can get under your skin.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Austrian Abomination!

This absolute freak is Josef Fritzl.

Today the world found out just how miserably cruel
some people can be.

I was trying to decide which serial killer to shed some light

on and then I clicked on to find this lunatic's face all over it.

In case you haven't heard - he kept his daughter locked away in a catacomb like existence in their basement for 24 years.
YES, I said 24 years - and YES, I said his daughter.

But this is not the really disturbing part.

This is: he continually assaulted and raped her the entire
time and is the father of the seven children she has had.

Can anyone say light this man on fire and watch him burn?

As if that weren't bad enough... he and his supposedly unknowing
wife upstairs raised three of those children themselves.

Apparently the wife thought the daughter ran away (as daddy had

her write a note at age 18 saying as much) and at one point had kids and just dropped them off at the folks and left again.
Uh-huh. Happens all the time.

More bad news: the other four kids had it even worse.
One (of a pair of twins) died shortly after birth of neglect.
The other three (ages 19, 18 and 5), as well as the mother - never

saw the light of day in those 24 years.

Their eventual freedom came when the eldest daughter (the 19 year

old) became sick and had to go to the hospital. The child's mother had pinned an "SOS" note to her clothing and it was

Hence the police made this ghastly discovery. A series of rooms under
keyless lock to which Mr. Fritzl was the only one who had access to them.

The daughter, Elizabeth - age 42 now - is being evaluated and is under severe diress of course. She was only forthcoming with information after she was assured she would never have to see her father again.

Personally, I think no one should ever see his ugly ass again.
Take him out back and shoot him!

Man! People are just messed up.

My faith in humanity is seriously tested after this shit goes down.

For more on this developing story go to or pretty much any news source where it is currently being plastered all over.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

El Orfanato

The Orphanage is a creepy supernatural film by first time director Juan Antonio Bayona (but produced by the very worthy Guillermo Del Toro ( of Pan's Labyrinth, Devil's Backbone, and Hellboy fame).

It weaves a chilling story of a woman, Laura, who with her husband purchases the old seaside orphanage she grew up in so that they and their (adopted) son can live there as well as run a home for special-needs children.

As soon as they arrive and begin to get accustomed to their surroundings, strange things begin to happen. (Don't they always?) Laura notices her son Simon talking, more than usual, to his newest imaginary friends - one in particular - Tomas. Simon seems to be preoccupied with the games he plays with Tomas. He also now angers easily and, after finding his adoption papers locked away in a drawer, screams at Laura saying she's not his mother and runs from the room.

This pivotal event occurs at the same time they are throwing a party for disabled children at the home. Everyone is dressed in masks, and even so, when a child appears with a strange burlap-type sack over his entire head, there seems to be no immediate concerns.

At this point, Simon mysteriously disappears. Poof! Not a trace of him anywhere.

Time passes with no sign of Simon. They have searched everywhere to no avail. I'm talkin' months go by! Laura is completely distraught and of course blames herself. Her husband wants her to leave the orphanage, as he fears for her well being and sanity. She tells him to leave but that she is staying for a few more days to tie up some loose ends.

Laura realizes there are forces at work against her that she must somehow overcome. All she wants to do is get her son back. The subsequent events really make up the backbone of the tale, and to tell more would give too much away. You just really need to experience it yourself.

There are some absolutely frightening elements in this film, but I would never say it is the scariest movie I have ever seen. It is quite a slow-burner, to be sure. The plot unfolds in an almost sluggish manner, but there are some truly creepy details and atmosphere you could cut through with a knife. The ending is by far the best part.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this, but if you are expecting gore galore, look elsewhere. But if you enjoyed movies like The Others, Ghost Story, or The Changeling - then by all means, check this one out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blair Witch vs. Godzilla?

Just saw Cloverfield tonight, so I figured I'd drop a line or two about this interesting concept movie.

First let me say - I think I liked it.
It's hard to make an educated decision about it right now because my brain is coming down from the nausea inducing, vigorous, jerky camera effect the whole way through. I'm not saying it didn't "work" for me, just that perhaps maybe they wouldn't have had to do that the entire way through the movie.

Second - the effects were rather good, I thought. I have heard folks complain over and over again - saying the special effects were crappy and they couldn't get past the whole Blair Witch thing - well, they weren't trying hard enough - because to be honest, it was a tense and believable movie for the most part. The CGI was on a way better level than say, Van Helsing. It's amazing what can be done these days.

Basic plot is rather elementary. Monster attacks New York City.

Rob (our hero of sorts) never told the girl he loves how he feels about her and now a monster has attacked the city, he's not with her, and he's feeling guilty. Must find her. He was at a party given for him because he is moving to Japan (can you say Godzilla reference?) soon and everyone is there -giving a buddy of his video recorded well-wishes. Hence the video taped footage of everything as it is happening. His friend just keeps recording and never stops, saying he needs to do it - "so people will know what happened"...

Rob, after seeing NYC in mere shambles, takes his life and the lives of a few friends - including his brother - in his hands, dragging them along to go to mid-Manhattan and find said girlfriend. Much chaos ensues of course, in the race to get to her before the armed forces just simply drop the big one on the ravaged and doomed city.

What is extremely hard to imagine is someone actually taking the time to continue filming while being chased by a huge....whatever it is. With half the city running up and down the streets around him, he still manages to capture everything going on. Right. Much of this was simply implausible.

But let's not be too harsh. I thought this was actually pretty good. It had me believing (if only for an hour & a half) that a monster could overwhelm and level a major metropolitan area. It was freaky, relentless and fun.

And you do get a decent look at the actual 'creature' near the end of the film, but I much preferred the sideways glances and partial shots of it slashing its way through the city. Leave it to the imagination - that is always and forever more effective in my book.

To be fair, I was genuinely entertained. Not sure I'd buy it, but I'd watch it if it were on Sci-Fi some rainy saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

An unnerving book

By now most of you know I am addicted to horror movies and scary books.
Thought I would take a moment to discuss one of my favorite frightning stories.
The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill, is a chilling portrait of one man's descent into fear and the unknown.

Susan Hill - The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story

Arthur Kipps is working his way up in his law firm, and is given the task to settle the affairs of the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow, who lives in a remote estate - The Eel Marsh House - on the mostly unaccesible salt marshes near the town of Crythin Gifford. Apparently she has no family left to claim the home or her effects, so it is up to Mr. Kipps to attend the funeral and put her affairs in order.

He travels from London to the small town, meeting the friendly Mr. Daily - a well-to-do business man who for one reason or another, seems surprised that Arthur has been assigned this morbid task. Once reaching Crythin Gifford he settles in at the Gifford Arms. He finds no one, however, that is willing to talk about or even acknowledge the passing of the reclusive Mrs. Drablow.

At the funeral the next day, he notices a gaunt, pale-faced woman near the back of the church. Sickly looking and dressed in a faded black dress, he wonders if the deceased did indeed have a long lost relative who has come to pay her respects and claim the residence and holdings. After seeing her again in the cemetery, he is unable to find her again to speak to her.

The Eel- Marsh house is located across a misty causeway, which at high tide is completely shut off to outside influence. His driver takes him there and leaves, promising to return at low tide.

Once at the eerie home, Arthur begins sifting through Mrs. Drablow's mounds of pointless papers and property. He is slightly on edge, and yet he does not know why.
He then sees the aforementioned Woman in Black several more times, and her presence shakes him to the core. On top of that, he hears what is apparently a horrific accident involving a horse and carriage. It seems they have fallen into the marsh. He rushes outside and there is nothing there.

The horror of this book is evident in the reason for the woman's appearance, which you eventually discover. The hauntings become more and more harrowing and ultimately Mr. Daily is truthful in his explanation of the reason for the woman's appearance. But by this time, Mr. Kipps is unsure if he can be released from the foreboding ghost's hold over him.

It is a suspenseful book (a short one, at only 138 pages) that is a quick read, but even I had some apprehension reading it late at night. It does give you the chills, and can induce rather odd and sometimes frightening dreams.

It was also made into a rather good movie in 1989, but it is exceedingly difficult to find on DVD. I bought my copy on Ebay and was more than thrilled to have it in my collection.
It was adapted to film quite successfully, though a bit tv-like in nature - and has also been made into a very successful play in the UK - still hugely popular. It is the story that holds everything together, so I suggest picking it up and giving it a try.

Serial killers 101

It's not just fictional horror movies and books that creep me out - it's the true crime aspect of life. Hard to imagine people can be so cruel. I've decided to touch base with a few of these unimaginable criminals from time to time.
When I watched 'The Girl Next Door' I got an itch to do some research about more ghastly crimes (told you I'm morbid) and I didn't have to look further than my own bookshelf to find some sick puppies.
First up - Albert Fish.

This is one sick bastard. He came from a family wrought with mental illness. His mother put him in an orphanage where he was routinely beaten and was said to have enjoyed it. He began raping men and molesting children. Things only escalated from there. He attempted several times to abduct children.

The demise of his reign of terror began in May of 1928. He kidnapped 12 year old Grace Budd, telling her parents he had a niece having a birthday party and thought Grace would enjoy it. Budd's parents had let this maniac into their lives unknowingly - quite unaware that the elderly gentleman had a quite different agenda for their innocent daughter.

Fish took the girl to a house in northern NYC where he proceeded to strangle her, cut her into pieces, bury part of the corpse out back and take the other parts back to his home in the city. There, he continued his ghastly plan by cooking up a stew with various portions of her flesh, and feasted on it for a week. Maybe it is a moot point to mention he masturbated while consuming her body. Isn't he already sick enough?

His downfall came when he felt compelled to write a horrendus letter to the Budd's, detailing his crime. He was tracked down by the stationary he had used. Kinda like getting Capone on tax evasion, eh?

Authorities became well aware of the ghoulish atrocities he had committed in the ensuing investigation and learned Fish was even more demented than they had originally thought. He was a sexual deviant and said he heard the voice of God who told him to commit these crimes. He got off on inflicting pain on others as well as himself - when x-rayed in prison he was found to have twenty nine needles lodged around his bladder, and he admitted to enjoying inserting rose stems into his urethra as well. Say it with me now.... holy shit!

He was, of course, found guilty by reason of insanity but was still sent to the electric chair. In 1936, he died in the chair in Sing Sing, stating directly prior that he had no idea why he was there.

Info collected from:
and from the book by Harold Schechter and David Everitt: The A to Z of Serial Killers.

A bloody good time

How much do I love Sweeney Todd?
Let me count the ways...

Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Two-Disc SSweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Two-Disc S...

1) Johnny Depp. Anyone who even remotely knows me, knows I will watch Mr. Depp frolic in pig shit - it doesn't matter what he is in, I will certainly watch it. From his bloody bed-sucking demise in his first movie 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' to his eccentric role as our favorite scissor-wielding orphan in 'Edward Scissorhands to skittish Icabod Crane in 'Sleepy Hollow' to Captain Jack himself - he has always picked off-beat, unusal roles. Usually on the darker side (i.e. 'From Hell', 'The Ninth Gate' and among others, this title role) he makes the part his own, and has shown he is one of the best actors of this generation. And that's not to mention he's not too hard on the eyes, either!

2) The barber chair. Not to give too much away - but I think you've seen on the commercials and trailers this brilliant contraption that disposes of the corpses after ole Sweeney has given them the closest shave imaginable.

3) Meat pies. Now, I'm no vegetarian, but these meat pies make me want to run for cover somewhere close to PETA headquarters.

4) Burton. Always imagining the dark side of life - his bleak, atmospheric sets and morbid fascinations with somber stories is something I've grown accustomed to expecting from one of the masters of telling a macabre tale.

5) Music. What would a musical be without it? Duh. Just a silly script. And who knew Johnny Depp could actually sing that well?
Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics have always been what is the driving force in the story. I actually much prefer the movie's soundtrack to any of the Broadway versions, which are -in my opinion- way over the top.

6) Set design, costumes and art direction. Whoever was in charge of these tasks should have won the Oscar (maybe they did but I don't feel like looking up those stats right now....). The bleak, dark, dripping with atmosphere London in this film is superior to most other dreck that passes in movies these days. You can just feel the Jack The Ripperish ambience of the streets. I love this kind of mood that Tim Burton is so famous for. Well done.

All in all, a fine turn by all involved. Depp and the movie itself won Golden Globes, and it's no wonder.

Poor Sweeney - he's lost his wife and daughter to the evil and scheming Judge Turpin. He was locked away for 15 years, in which time his wife was left for dead and his daughter was locked away in a room, hidden from the world for the Judge's own ulterior motives. But Sweeney's got a plan of his own, and he'll have a bloody good time bringing his agenda to fruition.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett has come upon hard times making her meat pies, noticing that her competition is using morsels of a feline nature in her recipes...
Wouldn't it be something if.....

Naaahhh... I won't spoil it for ya.

Suffice it to say when these two schemers put their heads together, they really take the cake. Or should I say pie?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Parking can be a bitch....


P2 (Widescreen Edition)P2 (Widescreen Edition)

I actually expected this to be rather a piece of crap, to be honest, because I don't remember hearing too much about it when it came out at the theaters.
But to be honest, it was a pretty good flick. Nothing to win any awards or anything, but in all, a fairly interesting thriller. At only about an hour & a half, it was just right. Any longer would have been too much time spent on making it interesting.

Even though the entire thing takes place inside a parking garage- hence the title P2- it kept my attention (as well as the hubby's, which is always the true test)... and the ending was relatively satisfying, so I really have few complaints.

Parking garages are, in fact, some of the most uncomfortably intimidating places anyway, for women in particular. The long walk to your car in the dark, shadowy confines of such a place is akin to walking in a cemetery at midnight. They're just creepy. Don't you always look over your shoulder every time you're in one? I know I do.

Poor Angela - It's Christmas Eve and she's already late for dinner with her family. She is at last leaving work and once at the adjacent parking garage, she discovers (convieniently) that her car won't start. Everyone else is already gone due to the holiday and it is established earlier that the building will be closed for three days due to the holiday. She is without cell phone service, so she wanders around and locates the office of the security guard, Thomas, who seems overly anxious to help her out. After he tries to jump start her car to no avail, he weirdly suggests she join him for a holiday dinner there in his office. She politely declines, after which he proceeds to basically kidnap her and make her holiday a living hell.

Thomas (Wes Bentley of 'American Beauty' fame) is a stalker. A voyeur. A goddamned lunatic. He teeters back and forth between just a little bit "off" to psychopathic madness. It's obvious he has been stalking Angela (Rachel Nichols) for quite some time. He knows way too much about her and from the views on his multiple closed circuit monitors, he watches her pretty much 24/7.
He even saw a co-worker make the moves on her in the elevator, an act he doesn't take lightly. His revenge on her fellow employee bursts a bit of gore into the mix, and there is more where that came from.

The ending was predictable but enjoyable at the same time. You still find yourself yelling out loud to Thomas: "Merry freakin' Christmas, asshole!" - you know??

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

I really must insist that you don't waste your time on this dud.


Sisters is a remake of the 1973 Brian De Palma movie of the same name, which some people call a classic. I don't know that I would go that far, but I would certainly recommend it over this debacle anyday.

I tried- with every ounce of my being - to try to make heads or tails of this movie, but to be honest, I was just outright lost. Worse than the most confusing David Lynch movie you've ever seen (Lost Highway anyone?), I just couldn't wrap my head around all the foggy plotlines and bewildering story structure.

Here's what I got from it. A doctor goes home with a mysterious woman he meets while volunteering at a children's party at a mental institution (which should be your first clue to the weirdness that is forthcoming), learns she has a twin sister, buys her a birthday cake, meets what he thinks is said sister, and promptly gets killed -by someone - with knitting needles. Right. Got that?
Meanwhile, a nosy journalist (Chloe Sevigny) witnesses the murder and tries to alert the cops. They first interrogate her as if she is the offender, then head off to the apartment in quesiton, where they meet the cryptic yet sensuous suspect - who offers them cake - and they eat some! One of the cops goes as far as to offer his card to the possible culprit, telling her to call if she needs anything!
Wow. Dumb.
Then the whole plotline just becomes a convoluted mess, as if it wasn't already.
There is a controlling psychiatrist who keeps a watchful, if not smothering, eye on the sisters. Apparently there has been some sort of human experimentation, involving siamese twins. Things just keep escalating into the more and more bizarre, as the reporter is strangely drawn to the sisters and finding out their secret.

To be utterly honest, I nearly detested this movie. If not for a few bloody scenes, it would have been a complete waste of time. I'm still not sure it isn't just that.
I'd love to hear from anyone out there who may have liked this mess.
As for me, I'd have to suggest cleaning the litter-box rather than sitting through this rubbish.

Oh, and the actress that plays the sister(s): Lou Doillon - is so entirely awful that I am convinced she cannot be an actual actress - but rather a homeless person who needed a few good meals from the craft service table of a local movie set.

Monday, April 7, 2008

'Ruined' Vacation

First let me say I am not EVER going to Mexico on vacation.
That said, The Ruins is a lovely movie that tells the story of four 20-somethings on a delightful Mexican vacation. They party with foreign strangers on the beach, they drink (diarrhea-inducing) umbrella drinks at tiki bars, they prance about half naked through the jungle looking for .....

You got it - The Ruins.
And you know what? They find 'em.

The Ruins [Theatrical Release]The Ruins [Theatrical Release]

I had considerable doubt, going in, that this movie could be even halfway as enthralling as the book by Scott Smith (A Simple Plan)... I figured what we were looking at here is Turistas crossed with... Gardening by the Yard or something like that.

It was, in my opinion, a worthy adaptation. A few key elements were fussed with and primped, but all in all - rather a fright.
If you don't like gore, steer clear.
If you don't like stupid vacationers, don't see it.

If you don't like climbing vines....

Two couples: Jeff (the "going-to-be-a-doctor" character) & Amy (simply put, the whiner) and Eric (loyal boyfriend extraordinaire) & Stacy (the cute, well-built blond that every horror movie has) are in Mexico. They decide, after meeting a friendly German (is that an oxy-moron?), to accompany him - through the thick, overgrown jungle - to one of the 'secret' Mayan ruins to find his brother, who has run off with an archeologist he just met.
Just the whole "taking off through the jungle" is a silly enough premise, but you know horror movies.

Anyway, the find the ruin and climb to the top - but not without meeting some antisocial to the point of being scary- locals who don't exactly like them hanging around. At the top, they hear the cell phone of the aforementioned brother, coming from deep inside the bowels of a huge pit. With the attached rope, the German, Mathias, is lowered into the hole in search of his sibling.

Without giving anything else away - I can only say that the fear factor has just been amped up one hundred percent after this point. It is literally crawling with desperate situations and ridiculous decisions.
There are some seriously gruesome scenes and I even cringed a few times - not easy for someone as seasoned (and desensitized) as myself. I think you'll know what I mean if you see it.
Put it this way, I remarked to my husband after we left the theater: "Now there's something you don't see everyday."

I'm sure there will be folks who don't like this film and to them I say: Whatever.
I believe this is rather unique and it did have some scary shit going down.
I've seen ALOT of scary movies, and as you may have previously read somewhere on this blog, I am hard pressed to find movies I don't like for one reason or another. However...

I can, and will, complain about the ending- but it won't matter. I'm sure there are bound to be a few alternate endings on the special edition DVD once it comes out.
They definately turned it into a Hollywood ending instead of sticking to the original book's conclusion. But Scott Smith wrote the screenplay as well, so he must have thought changes in the story added to it somehow. I must say I prefer the book's ending.
But this is a respectable adaptation of a truly scary book, and I imagine it will find a place on my DVD shelf - right there between The Ring and Saw.