Ruin Me, Hunty!

I guess with the state of the world at the moment, it only makes sense that people seek out more and more extreme ways to "safely" scare themselves.  Between the McKamey Manor and the Blackout Haunted House, people sign away their rights and freedoms for experiences that mimic their favorite movies. I'll be honest, I don't understand the desire for some of this. Getting fake tortured and ridiculed isn't my idea is a good time, but I won't kink shame. Now, something like Slasher Sleepout, the event at the center of Ruin Me, would be more my style. Except for the camping. There's spiders out there.  

I digress.

Facts Are Facts

Writer: Trysta A. Bissett, Preston DeFrancis

Director: Preston DeFrancis 

Gayly: fun and twisty twist on the slasher genre

Dreadful: tired tropes and some messy narrative moments

Release: Streaming exclusively on Shudder

Ruin Me is about a horror fan named Nathan and his reluctant girlfriend Alex, who sign up for Slasher Sleepout, an extreme horror attraction that is part scavenger hunt and part horror experience.  Nathan's friend bought the tickets for him and they were supposed to go together, but he got sick. Alex, being a good partner, agrees to go along. 

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Things start easy. They meet the other horror campers who fit into pretty standard archetypes. The overweight jokester, the polyamorous goth couple and the hoodie-wearing stoic bearded man. There's an edge of competition between them and their attitudes immediately grate. They're given the rules. They sign away their rights. They can't fight back, but can expect to be tormented as needed. They are bagged, pushed into what can only be called a murder van, and dumped in the woods to figure out what to do. 

Slowly, some things don't seem right. An early encounter with a stereotypical crazy old man leave Nathan with an actual slash on his arm. And the moody bearded guy vanishes. Tensions mount as the crazy hermit tells them "They're coming!"  and people start to doubt that this is part of the game. Shit eventually hits the fan and before you know it, we've entered a slasher flick. 

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This moment, where everything kind of goes to hell is the weak moment for me. Characters make flimsy excuses for the actions they take and this middle point feels like narrative need overtakes characterizations. It completely took me out of the horror of what was happening. As the events expanded and became more and more complicated, I kept wondering how much these tickets were for this camp. 

Of course, the movie leans into the question of what is really going on and whether the horror they are experiencing is actually real. Even through some of the rough spots, I found myself strung along. It's paced incredibly well, so there's no time to really dwell on the logistics of the experience. Alex is the lynchpin of the entire film. She has secrets and a drug habit she's been trying to kick and her boyfriend, in an unethical twist, seems to be psuedo therapist.  

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All of this culminates in an event that I don't think was completely earned, narratively. But the movie was acted well and the tension was nicely handled. Ultimately, I actually dug this movie and it's one of the better made Shudder Exclusives I've seen. Fans of slashers will find a lot to love here.