26th Aug2017

Frightfest 2017: ‘Ruin Me’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Marcienne Dwyer, Matt Dellapina, Eva Hamilton, John Odom, Chris Hill, Sam Ashdown, Cameron Gordon, Rocky Rector, Tom Harryman, Alex Galick | Written by Trysta A. Bissett, Preston DeFrancis | Directed by Preston DeFrancis

ruin-me-poster

It’s been over a twenty years since Scream reinvented the slasher genre, heralding a new age of post-modern, self-referential horror. In the two decades since, the genre has found its way back to its more horrific, and in a lot of cases cliched, ways – with modern filmmakers, many of whom grew up in the 80s at the height of the slashers popularity, rediscovering what made the much-maligned genre so great. However, given that film, like life, is cyclical, it means its probably about time for yet another “reinvention.”

And to that end comes Ruin Me….

Every Halloween, more extreme haunted attractions open for business, each promising even more thrills. Some have taken this to a whole new level. Welcome to Slasher Sleepout: The Ultimate Horror Movie Experience combining camping, haunted house, and an escape room into one extreme 36-hour event. Six strangers are hooded, dropped in the middle of the woods, and must survive a simulated horror movie. Alexandra, the only participant who has never even seen a horror film, reluctantly tags along with her boyfriend. But when the other campers start to die before their eyes, Alex becomes the star of her worst nightmares.

Packed with references to cliches, tropes and stereotypes of not only slasher movies, but the horror genre in general, Ruin Me is – honestly – the perfect successor to Scream. However, as a huge fan of traditional slasher movies, Ruin Me rises above Wes Craven’s film thanks to the woodland setting, a la every Friday the 13th rip-off you’ve ever seen; and the SUPERB way in which – despite telling the audience what is happening, and what the possible outcomes could/will be at each and every turn – the film subverts and plays with the very tropes it’s cleverly playing up to! It’s a wonderful dichotomy, and one the really makes Ruin Me feel fresh, new and exciting.

There’s also a real sense throughout Ruin Me that the people behind the film are just as big a fan of slasher (and to wit horror) movies as the audience. Why else would you the film feature a character claiming his favourite horror movie is Chaos, a film that is best-known for being an extreme, gore-filled remake of Last House of the Left starring Sly Stallone’s son? It’s small nods to the genre like that – nods that only “hardcore” horror fans will truly get – which give an extra depth to Ruin Me. It shows that those involved have a love and passion for the genre. After all, only filmmakers who love, and are passionate about horror would make specific mention that people who enjoy genre films know that they aren’t real, whereas mainstream films proffer a false sense of reality and hope to willing saps buying into Hollywood fairytale ending!

Speaking of endings, they’re something that horror fans know all too well. We expect the killer to return from the dead; we expect out final girl to win out; and we await that big twist-come-epilogue each and every time, which often changed the outcome for the worse for our protagonist. Ruin Me‘s ending? Well that’s an almost perfect one. You know what’s coming, you know how things are going to pan out. But there is always that thought in the back of the audiences mind – that what we’re seeing isn’t going to play out how we expect, how we *think* its all going to conclude. By continuously acknowledging, and playing with, the tropes and cliches of the genre throughout it’s running time, Ruin Me actually leaves audiences questioning their expectations, in much the same way as the films heroine Alex constantly questions what’s real and what’s not…

Led by a fantastic central performance by Marcienne Dwyer as Alex, Ruin Me certainly lived up to my expectations, even whilst it tried to subvert them! Ruin Me screens at the Horror Channel FrightFest on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August 2017.

***** 5/5

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