John Carpenter’s The Ward * is a psychological mystery wrapped in the trappings of a supernatural horror film. But there might just be another horror under that layer of mystery.
Kristen (Amber Heard) has burned down a house, and been admitted to the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital. She’s greeted by a cast of stereotypes: Emily (the crazy yet lovable nut), Iris (the straight laced but loveable nerd), Zoey (the creepily innocent but lovable child), and Sarah (the bitchy, but when you get right down to it, lovable rich girl). There was a girl named Tammy, but they’re not allowed to talk about her. There’s also a blanket stealing (yet lovable) ghoul named Alice that’s not supposed to be mentioned either. She wants to kill everyone.
Kristen herself appears to be a stereotype. She’s the strong, but haunted survivor. The film, as far as our expectations go and her own go, is about her figuring out what’s going on in this creepy mental hospital, and getting the hell out of there. Except it’s not.
John Carpenter’s The Ward is about Kristen figuring out her reality. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how to get out. Yeah, there’s the creepy aforementioned ghoul who will steal your blanket and pop up for a cheap scare or two, but what’s really scary is having only a tenuous grip on your identity and having the rug pulled out from you.
At first I wanted to dislike John Carpenter’s The Ward. I wanted to call into question the film’s storytelling. And I especially wanted to call bullshit on the final shot of the film. But the more I dwell on it, the more I like it. And it’s dwelling on the film that makes it work for me. Carpenter presents the fractured reality of a girl who’s undergone a great trauma, and just might not be able to ever be the same person again. It calls into question what good it is to survive a horrifying experience. If you’re not you anymore, are you better off dead?
* I will refer to this film at all times as John Carpenter’s The Ward, because that is what you do for a John Carpenter film. The man does not get abbreviated. It’s true. Look it up in a film book.
Chrystal and I seem to be struck by the strangest curse ever. No, we don’t both turn into werewolves, or wolfen, or anything like that. No, it’s more of a mundane curse.
It’s “The Curse of the Bar Activity Nights!” (Thunder, Lightning)
It used to just be confined to Trivia Night at a bar called Sunswick. We would show up, wait, then finally ask the bartender about trivia night only to be told that the host couldn’t make it. This happened 4-5 times. It will most likely happen again.
Last night, we decided to try out Tequila Bingo at a favorite of ours called Blackbird’s. It was supposed to start at 9pm, but the chalkboard out front said 10. We figured we’d see how long our food took, maybe we’d get to check it out. The food wound up taking an insane amount of time, but that put us at the bar at 10pm. In theory, Tequila Bingo should have been starting.
We didn’t want to jinx things by asking anyone about it. Other people seemed to be there for Tequila Bingo as well. Finally, it’s 10:30, we’re full of food and drink and there is no bingo, tequila or otherwise, in sight.
So if you want to go to a bar on a night that’s themed around some activity, don’t invite my wife and me. We’re cursed. Goddamn gypsies.
The same dream occurs though. No matter what’s going on externally. It’s a combination of every stressful environment ever rolled into one.
You’re at work, but work is part grocery store, part post production facility, part television studio, part high school. Part high school? You’re at work. But you’re also at school. And there’s this English class that’s on your schedule but you seem to keep skipping and if you keep skipping you’ll fail and if you fail you won’t graduate.
But you’re at work. And in a towel. And the customers are lining up with their groceries, and you’re talking about a press release and some famous director all of a sudden wants your opinion on how to fix this zombie movie.
And when you wake up, you know none of this has happened. That you’ve never collaborated on a major zombie film. That you successfully completed high school AND college without any missing English credits.
And that you usually remember to put on more than a towel when you leave the house.
But there’s still the lingering feeling. That it all DID happen. And that the dreams from childhood are true too. Where you could fly by moving your legs as if pedaling a bike. And when your dad went to church with no pants on. That happened. And The Mighty Ducks wasn’t a movie, but a real team you played on.
But you know it didn’t happen.
And it doesn’t matter.
And no one wants to hear about your stupid dreams.