Synopsis: No one believes the claims of a young woman (Amber Heard) that a dead patient is stalking the residents of the psychiatric facility.
Release Date: July 8, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The Ward is horror icon John Carpenter’s first film since 2001’s Ghosts of Mars. While many directors, especially those in the horror genre, evolve and change their style as they develop as filmmakers, Carpenter has, for the most part, remained fairly consistent with his style. A John Carpenter film is obviously a John Carpenter film, and The Ward is obviously a John Carpenter film.
The Ward takes place in 1966 at a psychiatric hospital. A young amnesiac named Kristen (played by Amber Heard from Zombieland) is brought in after being caught burning down a barn in the country. Once there, she meets Dr. Stringer (Jared Harris from “Mad Men”) who believes that he can help her regain her memory. Kristen makes friends with the other patients, a tight-knit group of girls who tell Kristen about Alice, a former patient who died. Kristen begins to see the ghost of Alice, a monstrously ugly specter. None of the doctors or orderlies at the hospital believes her story when she reports what she sees, and when the other patients start to be killed off one by one, Kristen knows that she has to escape. Not only do the doctors make her escape difficult, but the ghost of Alice does not want Kristen to leave, either. Alice keeps killing, Kristen keeps running and the film grinds its way to its shocking conclusion.
The Ward was written by the brothers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen. On the surface, it seems like just another haunted house story. The house is a mental institution and it’s haunted by a being that can cross the physical barrier and actually kill people, but it is basically a ghost story. But there is much more to The Ward. It’s a slasher film. It’s a suspense film. It’s a psychological thriller. And it all wraps up into a clever if not completely original ending. Kristen’s final realization of what has been happening has been done before, even in the not-too-distant past, but it doesn’t make it any less effective as an ending to the story. Carpenter’s direction compliments the Rasmussen’s story perfectly.
The Ward credits Yaron Orbach (“Funny or Die”) as the cinematographer, but the look of the film is absolute Carpenter. Orbach is known mostly for shooting documentaries and comedies, and The Ward is neither. Carpenter’s fingerprint is all over the film. The Ward is dark and gloomy. Like most of Carpenter’s films, The Ward makes better use of the darkness than it does the lighting. It’s what is in the dark that is important, and Carpenter is great at showing that. Even in the brightly lit hospital, there are corners and crevasses where evil lurks. There are places to hide for everyone except the heroine.
The character of Alice is not just your run-of-the-mill ghost. She’s ugly, deformed, vengeful and angry. She sneaks up on her victims in ways that are reminiscent of Michael Myers in Carpenter’s breakthrough Halloween. Like with Michael, there is a now-you-see-her-now-you-don’t vibe around Alice that makes her much more supernatural than your average killer. The Ward delivers jumps and shocks as well as suspenseful drawn out scares. For fans of being scared, it’s definitely a film to watch in the dark.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): John CarpenterMike MarcusAndrew Spaulding
- Producer(s): Michael RasmussenShawn Rasmussen
- Screenwriter(s): Amber Heard (Kristen)Mamie Gummer (Emily)
- Story: Danielle Panabaker (Sarah)
- Cast: Laura-Leigh (Zoey)Lyndsy Fonseca (Iris)Jared Harris (Dr. Stringer) Sydney Sweeney (Young Alice)Patrick McMahonYaron OrbachPaul Peters
- Cinematographer: Mark Kilian
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA