The Ruins—Dreamworks Pictures (Blu-ray)

Video: 4/5
Audio: 4.25/5
Extras: 3/5

Based on the terrifying best-seller by Scott Smith, The Ruins follows a group of friends who become entangled in a brutal struggle for survival after visiting a remote archaeological dig in the Mexican jungle where they discover something deadly living among the ruins.

I had the opportunity to see this one in theaters but I ultimately left disappointed. The film was fine but the D-Cinema I attended left the lights on throughout most of the film ruining the atmosphere. Seeing it in the dark confines of my home theater definitely helped with mood and atmosphere and I recommend this one in a dark room when the mood is right. This film could have easily spilled over into the cheesy teen horror genre given the premise and cast but the filmmakers keep things in control and don’t play completely by the numbers. This new unrated cut adds a bit more gore but not much else and honestly, the new ending didn’t do much for me. Still, this is an effective and goose bump inducing horror film, which is rare these days.

Unlike most modern horror films that are stylized to death, The Ruins manages to deliver a very natural looking film image that doesn’t try hard to look “cool”. Colors are very natural and the lush South American jungle serves as a nice backdrop throughout most of the film. If anything colors can be a bit subdued once the cast reaches the ruins. Details are preserved nicely in this VC1 encode and I was impressed with fine object detail and depth. Even longer shots in the dark have plenty of fine detail which helps a lot with the dimensional quality of the image. Blacks are slightly elevated in the darker moments, which hurt contrast a bit, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the D-Cinema presentation I saw. While this movie doesn’t have a real eye-popping visual quality to it, the natural film-like look is presented well on Blu-ray.

Paramount continues to make good on their support for lossless audio and delivers an effective Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. The sound design does lend itself quite well to the mood of the film, but the soundstage wasn’t quite as engrossing as I was hoping for. There is good use of the surround environment but the track lacks the full immersive quality some of the better horror soundtracks have delivered. Dialogue sounds very natural and is balanced nicely with the rest of the mix and surrounds are used effectively for atmosphere and some nice discrete sound effects. While this track isn’t bad by any means, it wasn’t quite as effective as I was hoping for this genre of film.

Extras include a few production features all presented in HD that give you a look into the making of the film and building the sets. Some deleted scenes and a feature commentary are also included. Rounding out the feature set is the theatrical trailer in HD.

While not the best horror movie of late, The Ruins is still a big step up from the lame cookie cutter films that are passed off as horror so often lately. Paramount has done a great job with the presentation and fans of the genre should definitely give this one a look.

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