16 Years Later, Late 2000s Horror Flop Lands on Netflix's Top 10

16 Years Later, Late 2000s Horror Flop Lands on Netflix's Top 10
Image credit: Red Hour Films, Netflix

A half-forgotten horror film rediscovered by Netflix subscribers.


  • Last fall, a remarkable horror movie from the '00s was added to Netflix.
  • The movie was based on a best-selling horror book, but flopped at the box office.
  • Despite the commercial failure and mixed reviews, the movie has now become popular on Netflix.

In the late '00s, there was one notable horror film that, while not promising to be an absolute blockbuster, had a budget many times larger than many other films in the genre. Unfortunately, it neither received warm reviews from critics and audiences nor managed to break even at the box office. Still, it is a true example of '00s horror: a decent, if somewhat cringe-inducing, script, gory visual effects, and a rather original concept among all the slasher and torture porn films that filled the genre niche at the time.

All of this makes the movie in question a worthy option to watch, especially since it proved to be wildly popular with Netflix subscribers, reaching the Top 10 on the streaming service.

What Is This Almost Forgotten Horror Film About?

If horror movies are usually built around human madness or supernatural macabre, in the case of the movie we are going to talk about today, everything is a bit different. As opposed to the supernatural, this is natural horror! Yes, this subgenre is based on phobias of animals and plants: Steven Spielberg 's Jaws may well fall under this subgenre. In our case, however, the natural is mixed with the supernatural, as the horror in this movie is not caused by a bloodthirsty shark, but by creepy, writhing vines... that might even have consciousness!

We're talking about 2008's The Ruins, which marked the directorial debut of American filmmaker Carter Smith, who went on to direct critically acclaimed films like Swallowed and The Passenger. The screenplay was written by American author Scott B. Smith. The film is based on his 2006 bestselling novel of the same name, but the screenplay adaptation was in the works while the novel was being written, as the film rights had already been acquired by Ben Stiller's production company (who served as executive producer), Red Hour Productions.

The Ruins follows two American tourists who, while vacationing in Mexico, meet a young German man searching for his archaeologist friend who disappeared while exploring a Mayan temple. Of course, in the tradition of the genre, the main characters agree to embark on a risky journey. But instead of a fun hike through the jungle, they encounter hostile Mayan villagers who won't let them near the temple. If only the tourists knew that they are doing this for a reason, because the temple is swarming with living vines that can imitate humans and take over their bodies!

The Movie Made It into Netflix's Top 10 despite Being a Flop on Release

As we said, the movie had a very big budget, $25 million. However, at the time of its release, critics and audiences were not really impressed with The Ruins, and in its first week of release, the movie finished fifth at the box office. As a result, the movie didn't even break even at the worldwide box office, earning only $22.9 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film's critics score is 50% and its audience score is even lower at 30%.

However, with the addition of the film to Netflix last year, many began to rediscover it, leaving very positive reviews. Many noted that while The Ruins isn't the scariest movie, it's still a decent horror with an oppressive, paranoid atmosphere, a well-written script, and visual effects that were in the spirit of its time. The growing interest in the movie is also evident in its ratings: on March 2, the movie made its way into the Global Top 25, and within a week it was also in the Top 10 in Australia, France and New Zealand.