Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Ward

In 2001, John Carpenter directed Ghosts of Mars, and it was pretty terrible.  It was so bad that, even with Ice Cube, Jason Statham, and Pam Grier in the cast, the movie never even approached being an entertainingly bad action movie.  In recent years, Carpenter has let others remake his films (Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, etc.), but hasn't written or directed anything for the big screen in a long time.  The Ward is his first movie in ten years.  Was it worth the wait?  The answer to that question is an emphatic "no."
Ghost of Mars The Ward

Kristen (Amber Heard) was found alone in a nightgown, with no memory, in front of a farmhouse that she burned down by local police.  What do you do with a half-dressed pyromaniac, suffering from amnesia?  Throw her in the looney bin, of course! 
Not crazy enough to smudge her makeup, though
Kristen is placed in The Ward, which is apparently a specialized psychiatric wing that focuses solely on (mostly) attractive women in their twenties.  Note to self: if I ever open a psychiatric care facility, take only model-quality patients.  There are only a few (four!) other girls in The Ward, which seems both impractical and unlikely; granted, the film does take place in 1966, but even The Snake Pit had more patients than this.  Sarah (Danielle Panabaker) is the local mean girl, Iris (Lyndsy Fonseca) is the nice girl, Zoey (Laura-Leigh) acts like a frightened child, and Emily (Mamie Gummer) acts like a crazy person.
Why so serious?
Naturally, Kristen wants to escape this overcrowded hell hole, because amnesia and pyromania are not symptoms of mental illness.  She tries and fails, repeatedly.  In the process, she encounters what appears to be a ghost in The Ward.
Surprisingly, ghosts rarely have tangled hair.  Why is that?
No one seems surprised to hear her allegations, but no one will talk to her about it.  But then, the girls start disappearing one by one, victims of the ghost.  Why is this ghost killing insane women?  Why does she have it out for Kristen, who couldn't have possibly done anything wrong to the ghost?  The answer is underwhelming.

My biggest problem with The Ward was the odd nature of the ghost.  I suppose you can explain everything away with the twist ending, but...ugh...I don't want to.  The Ward is set up as a haunting story.  Something bad has happened, and a ghost is terrorizing these girls.  Simple enough.  The ghost seems to have the ability to show up anywhere, at any time.  And yet, ghost attacks are staggered over several days.  And the ghost obviously has a physical presence, since it snatches Kristen's blanket (what a bitch!), leaves behind a charm bracelet, and chokes, stabs, slices, and electrocutes different girls. 
Strapped in by a ghost who understands electrical equipment
What the hell kind of ghost is this?  If it wasn't for the creepy face and the teleporting, I would assume that the ghost was a real person.  And how do you defeat this killer ghost?  SPOILER ALERT: With a freakin' axe to the chest.  Of course that works; I've always felt that Ghostbusters was exaggerating the problem.  Yes, there is a twist that (kind of) explains these things (sort of), but the simple fact that no one in the movie notices how strange any of this is bugs the crap out of me.  All it would take is a couple of lines commenting about how ghosts don't steal blankets or ghosts don't usually have murders covered up by hospitals , but the audience isn't even given that much.

The acting in The Ward is not fantastic, but it is adequate for this story.  Amber Heard is decent as the main girl (the one with common sense), Danielle Panabaker is mediocre as a snotty stereotype, and Laura-Leigh overacted as the timid gal with a childish mentality.  Lyndsy Fonseca's character was a little less basic, and I thought she was fine as the friendly polite girl.  Oddly enough, Heard, Panabaker, and Fonseca played crazy characters that didn't look or act crazy at all.
Bitchy?  Maybe.  Crazy?  No.
Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streep's daughter, was given the only role that required someone to act crazy.  I'm not sure how much I liked her.  Yes, she acted crazy, and yes, she was annoying.  It's not the worst crazy performance I have seen, but it sticks out here because the "crazy" women tend to act very normally.  Jared Harris isn't very impressive as the doctor masterminding the plot, but I will give him credit for seeming appropriately sympathetic and secretive.  None of the acting is particularly noteworthy, but none of it is awful.  After all, this is a John Carpenter film, and his stories are usually the focus.

I was very disappointed with John Carpenter's writing and direction.   I have nothing against plot twists, but The Ward's twist effectively negates any investment the audience might have made in the characters.  This twist was eerily (and unfortunately) close to the twist in Identity, and that twist suuuuuuucks.  If the script was tighter, the twist may have been revelatory, but it wound up simply feeling manipulative.  As for Carpenter's direction, his pacing was off from the start.  The only scares come in the form of "the audience sees something behind a character" startles, and they weren't even effective most of the time.  Thanks to the ridiculous story (which he wrote), the actors were given an excuse to portray their characters as shallow cliches, which makes this film even less fun to watch.  The Ward is just an all-around miss from a master craftsman that should have known better.

Ten years after his (arguably) worst film, John Carpenter returned with a vengeance.  Unfortunately, not in a good way.  I wasn't expecting a whole lot, given the cast, but I had hoped for a decent thriller or some classic Carpenter horror.  Instead, I was bored and had my intelligence insulted.

Other things that bothered me in The Ward:
  • Apparently, the same nurse and patient-wrangler-guy work 24-7, and do not have any relief shifts.
  • If the ghost can teleport, why does it take her so long to kill people?  Yes, the twist kind of explains it, but it bothers me that no one else asked.
  • Why is Kristen the only one clever enough to escape from her room at night?  It took her, like, ten minutes to craft an escape.  None of the others have come up with anything after presumably months in the hospital?
  • Why is the ghost's face disfigured?  That doesn't match the way she died whatsoever.


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  2. well here are few answer which might give you help even if it is too late.
    she was special case so it was given to permanent few people apparently three of them.
    now why they working all the time if you see even in reality mental cares pay particular person to be with patient all the time so they can gain patients trust helps in treatment so it wasn't odd to have them all time there. remember she goes in special ward the whole area was one ward not different one. the guard was there bcz she escaped before in different personalities,yes in another personality that's why when Kristine say she be out of here, they say no way out.the sketch girl personality was first as she was drawing her past and what she could be if it wasn't her be in mental asylum. Alice start having other personality from imagination.the childish character was Alice's second one since she was abducted in childhood it was just her past memory in reality for her as she say bad thing happens in dark( she was in dark room in farm for two months and being raped).then she wanted to escape so was Emily new her but when she couldn't escape she develop the mean slutty girl who bargain with male nurse to let her out when refused she understood Alice was problem so Tammy came in and tell other personality that Alice should die by other personality. then Tammy got escaped and burned the farm house Alice didn't required Tammy which made her dead (by Alice's ghost). now comes Kristine who was developed to escape from past she had. when she gets caught she see other personality in front of her this is because according to her mind she don't remember them leaving place with Alice. doctor studied it and knew that easy way to do this is to kill other identity so he made stories of whole idea and tell Kristine that other girl are leaving as they are fine now. but her mind tells that they haunted by a ghost of Alice. here comes Alice back again but since Kristine didn't know she is Alice and how she looks actually there was no face for ghost to get so the ghost face disfigured(another reason could be as sketch had just shadow but no face so she in reality become like that).she assumed that ghost killing them as they trying to leave reason is Alice or Kristine can't go anywhere but doctor sending other away so they nowhere for her to locate in her mind.making it permanent effect on mind but she get attacked by ghost in last when doctor do the last hypnosis therapy on her telling she can leave but Alice can't so Kristine would be dead for that.then also her mind had to live and for that have to kill ghost but in herself she never actually believe in that so cured but not fully in effect she sees Kristine in last as ghost got a face because truly she killed all other and she know how Kristine looks like. i hope this was helpful and good for you and other fellow reader's. have good day buddies