Ruin Me Movie Review
Written by Ryan Noble
Released by Terror Weekend Productions
Directed by Preston DeFrancis
Written by Trysta A. Bissett and Preston DeFrancis
2017, 87 minutes, Not Yet Rated.
Frightfest 2017 World Premiere on 26th August 2017
Marcienne Dwyer as Alex(andra)
Matt Dellapina as Nathan
Chris Hill as Larry
Eva Hamilton as Marina
John Odom as Pitch
Sam Ashdown as Jared
Cameron Gordon as Tim
Rocky Rector as The Host
Ruin Me feels like something that could really happen. Horror experiences are all the rage nowadays, with escape room popularity on the rise and an increased love for Halloween each year. It's only natural that people would be willing to pay for an experience where they go out into the woods and get scared to half to death. Or, y'know, completely to death, as may be the case here.
The film follows Alex, a protagonist who feels pretty down-to-earth, likeable, intelligent – basically everything you could want from a “final girl”. Although, she's not without her own issues as a few foreboding flashbacks imply in the opening scenes of the film. This is just one of several strands that run throughout, and this particular thread adds another level to her character when you discover the truth.
Having said that, Alex is joined by a group of people that are definitely more in-line with the character tropes of horror films: a polyamorous goth couple, hell-bent on solving the puzzles of the weekend adventure; a strong, silent type, who you're not quite sure of; the nerd, there to break the tension with his awkwardness; and, of course, the loving boyfriend of the protagonist, who seems to have a couple secrets of his own. The gang is all here. Let's get hiking.
I'm aware that my descriptions above seem negative, but they're not. Horror has specific character archetypes for a reason – they work. They're a mixed bunch from different backgrounds and dialogue between the group is enjoyable and the characters felt fleshed out enough that I rooted – or didn't root – for them. For a good chunk of the film, while the group is wandering around the woods in search of clues, it even has a classic slasher feel to it, which I very much enjoyed.
Then the film kind of switches tracks, which I found a little jarring. Some of the threads that had been causing mystery in the background are brought into the light in a moment of decision for Alex, bringing a new person into the mix. However, I didn't feel like this person, or their relationship had been given the foundation it deserved for the emotional reaction that I believe it was meant to evoke. All it did was make me question everything I had thought about Alex's relationship up until that point, which weakened their relationship in my eyes, too.
Even so, this gear-change is both a weakness and a strength of Ruin Me, because it is also used to great effect near the conclusion of the film to keep you doubting. An ever-changing tone and pace had me doubting reality, doubting Alex's state of mind, and doubting her boyfriend's ulterior motives. Even if, at the same time, it had me wondering if I was enjoying the fluidity of the narrative as a whole.
Overall, Ruin Me was an enjoyable watch based on a feasible concept with fun characters and multiple threads that are likely to keep you guessing throughout. While the film feels a little weaker for its gear-shifting, it does add something in that it creates an unsettling sense of surreality that lasts right up until the film's climax. You're not likely to be ruined by Ruin Me's horror elements, but if you're looking for a film that'll give you a few laughs at the same time as making you question reality, this one is for you.