A new John Carpenter was something I was mildly excited about but it was edged with note of caution because I had not heard much praise for this film
A young woman Kirsten (Amber Heard) is picked up by police next to an abandoned farm-house she has set fire to. Kristen gets taken to the North Bend psychiatric hospital and placed in the care of Dr Stringer (Jared Harris) assisted by Nurse Lundt (Susanna Burney) and two men Roy (D.R. Anderson) and Jimmy (Sean Cook) I’m not sure what the two men’s official job title is but they definitely seem to do the jobs reserved in real hospitals for nurses but in Hollywood they seem to get called orderlies who do not do the things these guys do. You can tell the way this is going to go.
Kristen meets the other patients on the ward, the studious artistic Iris (Lyndsy Fonseca), condescending and flirtatious Sarah (Danielle Panabaker), aggressive Emily (Mamie Gummer) and shy, infantile Zoey (Laura-Leigh).
Kristen insists that there is nothing wrong with her with her but seems confused about why she is there and she gets angry when Dr Stringer asks her try to remember why she burnt down that particular house.
Kristen notices strange things happening at night and is attacked by a dead woman in the showers. She learns that the ward is haunted by another patient Alice and sees signs that she has already killed a patient Tammy who occupied the same room as she does.
I really should stop saying anything more about the story until after the break about the plot because there is a twist to story and those who have never seen story about people with psychiatric condition may well be surprised by it. For everyone one else it will be one of long line of movie scripts that seems have an inaccurate grasp of psychiatry that allows the script to play games with the audience. John Carpenter‘s direction is great but I fear even ho could not do much raise this above the level of an unoriginal script.
Hollywood psychiatry version of multiple personalities is such a cliché that it really takes a great story to bring something new to the story and I am afraid this wasn’t one of those. It is a bit different having the whole thing play like a ghost story but there just so many ways that the story stretched credibility a little too far. Why was the ward so empty? Where were the other doctors? Where were Stringer’s superiors during his controversial and very irresponsible treatment of Alice? The whole multiple personalities plot is just a trick played on the audience and when I spotted it coming I just kind of groaned.
- John Carpenter’s: The Ward – 2010 (jdcwitherton.com)