Sunday, October 2, 2011

JOHN CARPENTER'S THE WARD: It's Good! Too bad it takes place in THE WARD!

John Carpenter's THE WARD is a return to true form for one of my favorite directors.  The movie is really good.  Even with the absence of the traditional John Carpenter keyboard music that he is second best known for THE WARD can't help but feel like a genuine piece from the master.  The direction, the characters, the acting all perfect.  After the wonky PRO-LIFE I was afraid we had lost our beloved director forever.  Unlike other older directors (Romero, Lucas, Spielberg) who were great back in the day but now seem to have a hard time incorporating new technology with their film style, Carpenter manages to use the modern FX without his film looking artificial and all CGIy.  The ghost in the film looks like a ghost and not a freakin cartoon.  The movie looks like it takes place in the 1960s and not just a bunch of people dressed like they are from the 1960s standing in front of a green screen with digital 1960s backgrounds digitally inserted in the back.  You would think that with all this praise that I would pardon the film's biggest flaw and go on with my "la-de-da" life but I can't.  I just can't.  After all these years of being a giant jerkola I can't bring myself to ignore my biggest complaint of the film which is..........?????

Out of all the places to set a horror movie why, oh, why does it have to take place in an insane asylum?  First off there are a billion-million-gazillion horror movies that take place in asylums.  None of them are good.  At least John didn't call it THE ASYLUM.  It is the most uncreative place to set your horror movie.  Syringes, hospital beds, arm straps, electro therapy, doctors, nurses, flickering hallway lights, straitjackets pills and more pills are all common things you see in these films.  And all of them are cliched and boring.  Watching these films are about as thrilling as actually sitting in a hospital waiting room with no WEEKLY READER to pass the time with.  Those images don't scare anymore.  They leave no impact.  How many times do we need to see red blood splattered across white walls or sheets?  So clever.

What kind of story happens in a horror movie that takes place in a psyche ward?  Basically there are two kinds.  One is that the threat is real.  The second is that everything that is happening is only happening in the main character's head and we don't find out until the end with a bunch of psychological mumbo jumbo bull hockey.  Those of us who watch a lot of horror movies know this and we can see the ending coming from a mile away giving us little surprise.  One simple sentence nonchalantly uttered from a secondary character is all that is needed to reveal too early the twist.  THE WARD is no different but I will say this.  At least THE WARD doesn't draw the twist ending in crayon for all to see during the opening credits of the gosh darn movie! *cough-IDENTITY-cough*

You can tell that Carpenter put some time and thought in to making THE WARD.  There really isn't anything in the film to complain about.  He is back and I can't wait for his next movie.  My problem is the familiarity with everything I was seeing.  I got the weird "I'm watching SUCKER PUNCH again" vibe.  That's an awful feeling, folks.  One that I never want to feel again.  Maybe if SUCKER PUNCH hadn't metaphorically kicked me in my metaphoric balls I would have enjoyed THE WARD more.  Who knows?  And, yes, ladies I have real balls to go along with my metaphoric balls too.


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