Saturday, August 4, 2018

Slasher Sleepout!: Ruin Me (2017)

Ruin Me (2017)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Marcienne Dwyer, Matt Dellapina, Chris Hill

The title alone is reason enough for me to see this. I mean, "Ruin Me"? That can only go down in one of two ways: either our victims are gonna be ruined in a manner that we can't recognize them unless we use dental records or they'll be ruined mentally through hardcore psycho-torture. This being advertised as a backwoods slasher, you would expert the former, but, no...

Recovering druggie Alexandra joins her boyfriend Nathan in a campout slasher-themed horror experience game along with four other participants made up of goth-punk couple Pitch and Marina, chubby horror nerd Larry and token mysterious quiet-type Tim. After having the rules explained to them by a very aggressive Redneck-ish host, getting bags over their heads and dropped off in the middle-of-no-where woods, the six quickly learns that the camp's theme is an asylum breakout and their task is to find a trio of escaped mental patients skulking around in them woods.

It's all fun and games (and scares and heartbreak and awkward conversations) until a supposed actor shows up later that night at their camp, warning them of their impending doom and actually cuts one of them at the arm with a real knife before running off into the forest. If that wasn't intense enough, come the following morning and one of them suddenly disappears, with what looks like their severed fingers left for the rest to find. Could this still be a part of the game? Or are really escaped lunatics out there killing people for real?

Now, I find discussing the pros and cons of this movie a tad difficult without spoiling a bit so heed my warnings, dear readers. In a way, Ruin Me is less of an actual backwoods slasher film and more of a psychological survival horror thriller as while it toys with the classic slasher concepts of masked killers in the woods, the story has a stronger focus on playing with our expectations, particularly whether one of our main casts is going crazy or not, and if any of these is really happening.

With this, I will say that it is an interesting slasher for the first half of the film; the dialogue was great, the characters were engaging and interesting to watch (though the drama between some of them can get eye-rolling hammy), and there are some genuine fun scares to get around. The concept of the survival game is, frankly, really neat and personally the best element of Ruin Me from its little puzzles and clever set-up, to nasty surprises and intense moments. But once most of these campers start dying off in really uninspired ways in a matter of minutes, we get a full curveball on our plot and next thing we know, we're watching a scene straight out of early years SAW, which is great on its own but leads to a lot of frustratingly convoluted twists that are honestly been done for quite a while now, this time a lot worse with the boring final reveal that definitely stretched the movie way longer than it needed to be.

I really wanted to care more about this film but after a strong build-up like that, I expected a better payoff than an unfocused mess and another edgy ending for the sake of being edgy. It does very little justice to the good writing and fun from the former half, but I will say that it at least made the idea of whether what's happening is all in a character's noodle slightly stronger, especially during a certain cop scene, leading to some harrowing development albeit at the price of keeping consistency within the film's tone. Marcienne Dwyer perhaps made the most effort to keep this film watchable as she plays her character with the most uniformly through out the film, thus making her a captivating watch, though this doesn't mean she's safe from Ruin Me's occasional scripting hiccups, most of it quite noticeable at the half-point.

In the end, Ruin Me is unnecessarily unsound. It is my earnest opinion that this film could have been a lot better should it grounded a stronger footing on what it really wanted to be: a satirical slasher spoof? A dramatic SAW clone? A pizzazz psychological thriller in the woods? Not gonna put down a film for trying something different for an outcome, but difference should come with style and Ruin Me, while fun for the most part, went through a lot of bumps in the end that I wouldn't consider a "style". Just overdone and cluttered riffraff. Not the worst slasher thriller to happen, not the most memorable, too.

1 male found murdered, fingers severed
1 male had his throat cut with a hunting knife
1 female murdered offcamera
1 male shot on the gut
1 male disappears into the sea
1 male murdered offcamera, blood splatter seen
1 male shot
1 male murdered with a hunting knife
1 male stabbed on the gut with a hunting knife
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
Total: 10

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