Tuesday, June 7, 2011

if i had a hammer.

The Ward (2010).
Dir: John Carpenter.
Cast: Amber Heard, Lyndsy Fonseca, Mamie Gummer, Sussana Burney, Danielle Panabaker and Jared Harris.

"Sorry, I don't converse with loonies".

It's another normal day in dust covered rural Oregon way back in 1966, the birds are singing, the sun is shining and batty blonde bombshell Kristen (snub nosed Mandy Lane herself, Heard) is busying herself by burning down a farmhouse.

As one does.

Picked up by the fuzz (not as painful as it sounds) and dropped off at the local mental asylum, Kirsten is left in the care of the enigmatically ginger Dr. Jerry Stringer (Harris, still paying his penance for Resident Evil) whose new anti-madness treatment is known to work wonders on fairly hot nubile teens.

Denise Van Outen, up the casino, 2002....YESCH!

With no memory as to how (or why) she came to be sitting outside a burning house and getting a wee bit of hassle from the hatchet faced Nurse Lundt (video voice vixen Burney) for refusing to take her anti-mad pills. our klepto cutie decides to introduce herself to her four fellow maddies.

As in mental patients not McCann-alikes.

That would be sick.

John Carpenter points in vain as the remnants of his once great career fades into the distance.

First to say 'Hi' is the incredibly pointy faced Emily (Gummer, daughter of St. Meryl Streep) followed quickly (and shakily) by the teddy bear obsessed Zoey (the almost dwarf-like Leigh).

But it's not all happy families (or even a bit lesbo-teen touching) as queen bitch Sarah (Friday The 13th's rude sounding Panabaker) isn't too impressed by our toothsome tottie whilst bespectacled beauty Iris (Kick Ass' Fonseca) just sits and quietly draws stuff.

So far so Sucker Punch.

"Did I hear someone say 'mooth shite-in'?"

It's not long before Kristen discovers that not only is the ward haunted by a vengeful ghost with bad teeth (and cunningly disguised it seems in a cheap market Halloween mask) but that this spooky spectre has already off-ed one patient in the movie's pre-credit sequence.


With the metaphorical clock metaphorically ticking Kristen and co. attempt to discover the spirits secret shame whilst dodging the dippy doc's gingerisms before time (and viewer patience) runs out.

And the fact that the ghost is invisible until the maximum scare moment can be achieved doesn't help.

Will the lovely ladies (and Emily) survive or will they all be butchered in a variety of hospital based ways?

Will Kirsten recover her memory?

And more importantly will john Carpenter regain his dignity after a run of frankly rancid shite disguised as classic cinema?

No matter what happens tho' lets hope that ten minutes before the end, the whole film isn't ruined by Dr. Stringer turning up and explaining the entire plot with the help of some ven diagrams, handy flashback sequences and a smooth voice-over.


From the highs of Halloween to the lows of Memoirs of an Invisible Man, no director alive today seems to garner as much goodwill and forgiveness as John Carpenter.

Maybe it's our age, or the fact that The Thing is still the greatest body horror movie ever made but whatever awfulness he's let loose over the last decade or so we sweep it under the carpet and still love him.

Except of course for The Village of The Damned remake for which he's still owed a fucking good beating.

So is The Ward a return to greatness or a final nail in the coffin of a once illustrious career?

Well thankfully it's not the shite-fi failure that was Ghosts of Mars but then again it's not even Prince of Darkness.

What we have here is an entirely unspectacular (and totally predictably) plotted ghost story made watchable thanks only to the skill of the director.

Screenwriting siblings Michael and Shawn Rasmussen must have found some really dodgy photo's of Carpenter and his dog to get this gig as I can see no other reason he'd decided to make it otherwise and, whilst nowhere near as bad as the cinematic abortions shatted out by Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson (we know where you live) you still expect even the most novice of writers to treat someone like old JC with a wee bit more respect.

"Fiona! Where's mah lunch?"

After the horrendous failures that were his last few movies tho' (Escape from LA excepted) perhaps this was all that was on offer to the great man.

Which would be a crying shame seeing as folk like Gabriele Albanesi never seem to be short of a few bob.

But if that is the case then it's promising at least to see the great man easing himself back into a genre he knows and loves. 

Well I've missed him at least.


Anonymous said...

Good review sir, as yet still unwatched by myself, but I have to admit to actually liking Ghosts of Mars and Vampires! Something about their tongue-in-cheek attitude makes them worthy winners on a Saturday night with a couple of tins of beer. The travesty that was Escape from LA though, I can't forgive him for that.
Oh, and that picture of Dana, its the wrong bint! :)

Anonymous said...

what do you mean when you said
"Harris, still paying his penance for Resident Evil"?
but i do agree when you said "whose new anti-madness treatment is known to work wonders on fairly hot nubile teens."..
and yes, i like your review..many people is so disappointed on John Carpenter cause they were expecting more...