Sometimes going to the movies can be a real depressing experience. Not because of the movie's dark subject matter, but because the on-screen action is so deadly that you wonder what made you think seeing it was a good idea. Consider me wondering after taking time out to see “The Ruins.”

What would you do if a supernatural vine was trying to suck your blood and devour your bones? Well, don't take your cues from “The Ruins,” because that's not going to help any more than it helped the poor souls served up here as a buffet.

Vacationing on the beaches of Mexico, a pair of, what else, attractive twentysomething couples are invited to take a look at a mysterious Mayan temple.

The group, which includes the couples and some friends they met on the beach, immediately falls into trouble with a pack of armed jungle-dwelling Mayans who force them to take refuge at the top of the blood-soaked temple. There, things take a turn for the worse. By that I mean the audience has at least another hour of movie to sit through.

I haven't read Scott Smith's novel that “The Ruins” is based on.

Since the book ran more than 500 pages and the movie is barely 90 minutes long, someone must have taken a machete to the contents. It shows. The four main characters, Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacy, are ciphers.

One of the men who accompanies them to the lethal temple, Mathias, is taken out of the action so quickly you might wonder what he's even doing in the movie. However, he does provide the fodder for one of the movie's more ludicrous moments, so that may be why.

The actors do the best they can with the script provided and, unfortunately, that isn't much. Stunned at the trap they're stuck in, they have little to say beyond, “I just want to go home.” Hey, you and me both.

“The Ruins” is indeed a horror film, although not in the way the filmmakers hopefully intended. Dramatically inert, the movie's plot threads lead nowhere. Hints of Amy's infidelity with Mathias vanish. Jeff's pre-med school status only pays off in one grotesque though really laughable sequence.

Oddly, much of the movie is static, with the characters doing nothing. No one bothers to react against their deadly surroundings. There is no suspense, true horror or relief from its tedium.

Trapped at the top of the temple, the characters have no place to go, and neither does the story.

I kept waiting for some kind of twist or surprise, but none ever came as the cast gets picked off one by one by the evil vines.

The problem with “The Ruins” isn't the killer vines, but moviemaking execution, something it fails at miserably. You have seen this story many times before with different creatures in much better horror movies.

Thinking of seeing this? Stop right now or we may add one more victim to the tally enticed to visit “The Ruins.”

?BOB HARRIS has been hooked on movies since he was 13 when his brother got a job in a multi-plex and Bob saw all the movies he wanted for free.

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