Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The MONTH of HORROR - Day 14: The Ward

How come in horror movies where ghosts are terrorizing everyone, the main character never tries to reason with the evil spectre? I mean, what if the ghost is only murdering people because it's lonely, and trying to gain some attention? Why can't they ever just sit down and chat to try to work out whatever differences there may be between them? There could be a whole lot of mis-understandings going on, and all this killing, and carnage is completely unnecessary. My mind was wandering like that at several points throughout the latest from director John Carpenter because it's a real snoozefest.

It's possible that Carpenter's mind was also pre-occupied, he is a massive fan of the Call of Duty series of videogames, and perhaps he was thinking more about his latest kill streak, or where a good area might be to camp out other online opponents? I can buy that because while sitting through 'The Ward', it sure felt like he couldn't care less about the film he was making. That's a disappointment to me because John Carpenter is one of my favourite genre filmmakers, he has such a strong catalogue, and it had been ten years since his last movie, 'Ghosts of Mars', that I think many of his fans were hoping this would be his comeback. I'm afraid we'll just have to keep on waiting, or simply accept the fact that his best years are behind him.

'The Ward' takes place in 1966, and follows the beautiful Kristen (Amber Heard) who after mysteriously setting fire to a farmhouse, is committed to a local psych ward. Populated by only female patients, Kristen's presence immediately seems to upset the tight knit group of young women who have all apparently been in there for quite some time. It's also not long after her arrival that we become witness to some strange goings on--there's something evil lurking around! Is it a real ghoul? Is it all in her head? Is it some sort of sick experiment from the drugs being administered by the seemingly nice resident doctor? Is this a collection of storylines we've seen from dozens of horror movies in the past? It's so derivative, so unoriginal, so familiar, and so very boring.

If I hadn't known before hand that this was a John Carpenter movie, the same guy who brought us 'Halloween', 'The Thing', and 'Escape From New York' (just to name a few), I would never have guessed that he was responsible for this stink bomb. He didn't appear to have much of a hand in the writing process, nor did he compose the musical score so in the end it feels workmanlike which is not a word I thought I'd ever use to describe his films. If he can't regain his passion for filmmaking, that's fine, he's made some classics over the years and has more than earned time to take it easy playing X-Box, if that's what he's interested in now. I just hope that if he does decide to get back into the directing game, he spares us from dreck like 'The Ward' in the future.

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