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Two young American couples (Jeff and Amy along with Eric and Stacy) vacation in Mexico. At the pool of their hotel, they make friends with a German tourist, Mathias, and decide to help Mathias look for his brother, Heinrich. Heinrich has met a female archaeologist and followed her to an archaeological dig at a remote Mayan ruin in the jungle. The next morning Jeff, Amy, Eric, Stacy, Mathias and Demetri (a Greek tourist they also met at the hotel) begin the journey by bus.
The location of the ruin is shown on a crude map Heinrich drew before departing. After a long ride, the group arrives at a remote village near the dig and takes a worn-down taxi to the destination marked on the map. The driver tries to warn them away from this particular area. But shortly, they arrive at the trail head where they spot Heinrich's jeep and proceed.
Upon arrival, Mayan villagers appear with guns and bows. When Amy accidentally steps into vines covering the ruin, the Mayans aim their weapons at them. Demetri tries to calm the situation by walking over to Amy and grabbing the camera which he thought was the cause of the problem. After stepping into the vines and taking the camera he begins to walk towards the Mayans. Then he is struck with an arrow in his shoulder and then shot in the head. The Mayans then force the others up to the temple roof. They soon realize they are being quarantined, and learn the reasons why. It's a Orifice Invasion. Produced by Ben Stiller.
This film contains examples of:
- Badass - Though a minor example, Jeff is probably the most dangerous guy in the film giving out some stabbings to Mercy Kill Stacy, amputating Mathias' legs, and giving his life to allow Amy to escape.
- Daylight Horror - Because blood-drinking ivy growing in a wound is scary no matter how bright it is.
- Death by Irony: In the novel Amy is killed as Jeff watches. His decision not to act on her behalf until she apologized is the only reason she died then. In his defense, it was too dark to have known what was happening to her.
- Death By Pragmatism: Downplayed with Jeff in the novel. From the beginning, he is painted as something of a Jerkass due to his cold and calculating nature. In retrospect, this makes him seem like the ideal hero of the situation after the horror kicks in at the second act. Turns out he embodies this trope as well as Decoy Protagonist. He is certainly pragmatic, what with being a medical student and all, and when one of the protagonists (the non-English speaking Woobie of the cast), becomes horribly injured, it is he who suggests an improvised amputation of both that character's legs, in order to prevent infection. Naturally, given their limited resources, his friends reject this idea. He is also the one later on who makes the discovery that this is the least of their worries, namely the Man-Eating Plant covering the hill they are trapped on. After a few more deaths, he additionally suggests cooking and eating the bodies of their fallen friends, in light of the fact they have next to no food or water. The remaining survivors are not thrilled with the idea, and neither is the audience, despite him simply demonstrating the need to survive. One could label Jeff as a Crazy Survivalist, but when you compare him the other heros, he seems to be the only one with a brain. Naturally, he is not rewarded for it; despite attempting the only logical solution of trying to sneak past their Mayan captors at nightfall. True to the trope, it doesn't work, and he takes 3 fatal arrows for his troubles, as well as being finished off by the sinister vines.
- Deconstruction - The novel picks apart the standard teens-get-lost-and-killed-by-monster/psycho story. You have annoying Final Girl Amy who dies first. You have Stacy, whose first bit of character information is that she cheated on her boyfriend, so she has to die. However, being the still cherished girlfriend of the strategist leader that's willing to die for her, she survives the longest. Jeff, a resourceful Eagle Scout who starts to realize how completely over his head the situation is. Mathias, the mysterious German who leads the group to the temple where all the action takes place, is obviously responsible for the whole situation as some sort of Nazi experiment. But he isn't, and is offended when the others joke about it. In the end, stupidity and gravity almost does more to hurt the group than the monster vines do.
- Developing Doomed Characters
- The End - or Is It?: In an alternate ending, Amy escapes the Mayan quarantine only to be killed as the vines burst out of her body. A gravekeeper later hears someone whistling his own tune back at him and sees the ivy flowers growing around her headstone.
- Good All Along: The armed band of natives. From the point of view of the protagonists, they're murderous villains; but in the big picture, the protagonists really shouldn't be allowed to leave the ruins alive.
- You may not be squeamish, but you will feel physically ill during the leg-amputation scene.
- Or when they tug the vines out of their open wounds.
- Heavy on the amateur surgery.
- Heroic Sacrifice - In the film, Jeff distracts the Mayans long enough for Amy to get away, and gets shot to death for his troubles.
- It Can Think - the Plant
- Man-Eating Plant - A particularly disturbing example at that.
- Meganekko - Amy.
- Mercy Kill:
- The lead native shoots Jeff as the vines begin dragging him away.
- Jeff does this earlier to a dying Stacy.
- Orifice Invasion
- Schmuck Bait: The "cell phone" and the steps to reach it.
- Thanatos Gambit - Jeff's idea of an escape is to get himself killed, and with his death distract the Mayans, so that Amy can escape.
- The Film of the Book
- Too Dumb to Live - In the movie, this applies to everyone. In the book, it's mostly Eric, Stacy, and Amy.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic - A plant that takes people over, causing them to behave in bizarre ways and to hurt their friends. Once it's got its hooks in you, you'll never be the same. And, it has a distinctive five-pointed leaf.Growing on a Mayan ruin, for bonus points.
- Worst Aid:
- Oh no, his legs are infected. Clearly we should cut them off in unsanitary conditions with no bandages or antiseptics available. Because that won't lead to a person whose new wounds will promptly get infected, the only change being that he now doesn't have any legs.
- Oh, you just fell 20+ feet and can't feel your legs? Let's pick you up and move you. Ignore the Sickening Crunch, it's probably nothing.