Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The Ward (2010)
I've been looking forward to this one for awhile. I'm a huge John Carpenter fan and I awaited his return to feature length horror films with excitement albeit, with a heavy dose of trepidation. After all, over the past 15 years or so, his output has been spotty at best. Does the master of horror have anything left in the tank or is he going the way of most of his contemporaries, with no tricks left and with a clear sign that he should just retire to the horror filmmaker's old folks home? I wouldn't go that far in saying that he should quite the game altogether. On the contrary, he does some things with this film that I do like. But unfortunately, he does far too many things I don't which includes an ending which will elicit many a strong reaction from viewers who have seen this tactic one too many times before.
Our story begins with a teenage girl, shown in front of what we believe to be a childhood home. House ablaze, it's mere moments before the authorities come and haul her off to the loony bin.
She's taken to an asylum which will serve as her new home until she's deemed fit to return to society. The building is quickly established as being a character unto itself as it has that same sort of foreboding vibe that most great horror locales tend to give off. Carpenter from the onset using the setting to establish unease.
Getting settled in, our young lass gets acquainted with a handful of other girls that are also locked up. Not a whole lot is given in terms of background but general pictures are painted: one's antisocial, one's neurotic, one's a bit psychopathic and one's a bit of a bitch. Not really sure why the last one is in the mix exactly. As a matter of fact, outside of their general characterizations, there really isn't anything here that tells me they are truly a danger to themselves or society. Did they kill someone? Did they slit mommies throat? Did daddy not hug them enough? However, this is explained later on in our 'grand reveal' so I guess in hindsight it doesn't really matter but it's troubling in the early goings as you're wondering why they're really there.
As you can probably guess, there is a history at this place. In particular, a previous patient is discovered to be haunting the halls. Some signature Carpenter work here as he employs long hallways to create a wonder and fear as to what could possibly lie at the end of them. When our haunt is revealed we learn that she's there to exact revenge upon the girls for what they did to her. Or is she really?
Look, I don't want to give away the ending but we've seen it done before (hint--*SPOILER ALERT*--: it starred John Cusack a few years back and featured a cast of characters at a roadside lodge). When our 'twist' was revealed, it felt like a complete cop out. Despite the general conditions painted of the characters, Carpenter had been really effective in creating a certain mood and atmosphere. When the reveal hits, it made the prior work all for naught because you just couldn't believe it went the route it did. It's that terrible.
Cortez the Killer