The Ward

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Written by Stephanie | Rated: 2 Stars - Tons O'Beef, Horror | Posted on 17-10-2011

How many ‘out’ lesbian Actors can you name in Hollywood? I can think of Sue Lynch and Portia De Rossi. That’s it. I Googled for some more and also got Sarah Gilbert (Darlene from Rosanne), Wanda Sykes (from Curb your Enthusiasm) and Lily Tomlin. Some mighty fine women, but none who could really sell a film on their own. The only other actress I can think of is Amber Heard, who bucks type (accepting Portia De Rossi, who would be phenomenal if she put on a few pounds) by being young and conventionally stunning. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Amber Heard, I really liked her in All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. She also really managed to hold her own against one of Nicholas Cage’s batshitballsoutloonyinsane performances in Drive Angry. I respect that she came out, as so few in Hollywood are willing to do, in fear, I suppose, that it will colour how audiences see them and the roles they’ll be offered. Although perhaps she’s smart enough to realise the advantage she has, as a stunning actress with a stunning girlfriend, why not embrace the USP? Can’t hurt to have something that makes you stand out from the crowd… Wouldn’t be so much in the interests of someone like, say, Jodie Foster (ALLEGEDLY). I don’t imagine she sits quite so well in the Male studioboss/audience wankbank.

Aaaaanyway, The Ward was released in 2010 and was John Carpenters’ return to film directing after 2001’s truly brain-gnawingly awful Ghosts of Mars (seriously, I tried to watch that film when I was drunk. I can watch any old shit when I am drunk and I had to turn it off after 20 minutes. It’s painful). The film starts with a young girl (the aforementioned lesbian) setting fire to a house and being taken to a Psychiactric Ward. It’s the 1960’s, so the place is grim, with cruel staff and locked doors. It’s the perfect setting for a horror film: You’re locked in, nobody believes anything you say, you’re drugged, you can’t question anything. It’s a wonder all horror films aren’t set in this place.

Fortunately, there are four other patients in the, very sparsely populated, ward. Even more fortunately, they are all attractive, not a minger among them (except one has geek glasses and one dresses like a five year old). So, you know, that helps with prettifying the scenery.

There’s a really nice feeling of dread throughout the film, with some spooky shots and jump shocks (not one of which involves a shrieking cat leaping out of a cupboard, which is my number one pet hate. In films, rather than real life… Although I wouldn’t much like it to happen for reals either).  The threat is revealed very early on, but the mystery is retained, so it doesn’t lose any of its chill. Up until the last ten minutes or so, I was loving The Ward. For me, it was John Carpenter back on form, delivering the suspense and tension of The FogHalloween and The Thing. Then, something terrible happened.

Now, if you want to watch The Ward, stop reading now. Like I say, it’s a decent little chiller up until the last ten minutes, but I can’t recommend it because of what I am about to say. However, if you DO want to watch it, look awaaaaay….

 

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‘Kay. So, there is one stock film ending that I hatehatehatehatehate. They* used it in Haute Tension, they used it in Hide and Seek, they used it in Secret Window. They’ve used it in countless other films. It never works. For those who need exposition, all these films end with the main character realising that THEY THEMSELVES are the threat, as they have some sort of ‘split personality’. Dum dum duuuuuumb. It effectively means that lots of what we’ve seen never happened. It’s akin to ending a story ‘it was all a dream’. In fact, what The Ward does, as Identity did before it, is reveal that EVERYTHING that happened on screen went on somebodys head. None of it actually happened, It WAS all a dream. It’s just so cheap and lacking in any kind of love for the art of filmmaking (“so, what’s your film about?” “it’s basically someone crazy thinking, for 75 minutes, then some dum dum duuuuumb at the end” “Great! Let’s film THAT”). To be fair to The Ward, it didn’t offend me quite as much as Identity before it. Identity had the cheek to go back inside the nutters head, after the reveal, to tell us whodunnit, IN HIS IMAGINATION. At least The Ward attempts to give us some reasoning (albiet reasoning that goes against even the little I know about how the human mind works), and it IS nicely tense for the first 75 minutes… but really John Carpenter?! I’m starting to think you should go and enjoy your retirement on a nice beach somewhere, because, this, this isn’t worth the bother.

 

*They here meaning idiot filmmakers with no respect for their audience.

Comments (2)

Loving this for reminding me of the utter sheer ridiculousness of Identity!!

ARGH! That film made me SO angry! ARGH!

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