The 2010 “supernatural psychological horror” film, The Ward, is significant for being John Carpenter’s directorial finale. Did his decision have anything to do with the film, or was he just burned out of directing?

Actually, the prolific Carpenter—director of cult classics The Thing, Halloween, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, and many other popular films—might have burned out with his 2001 sci-fi/horror flop, Ghosts of Mars (which I enjoyed, of course). He did not direct another film until The Ward, whose negative reviews and bad box office apparently was the final straw.


With that tagline, here is a brief overview of the complex film, lest I reveal too much. An older teen named Kristen (Amber Heard), garbed only in a nightgown, is running through a rural area in Oregon. She comes across an abandoned farmhouse, which she burns down. The police deliver her to the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital, from which she apparently escaped, although she has no memory of it at all.

Kristen has no idea what she is doing in a psychiatric hospital.

Kristen is put on the extreme psychiatric ward of the hospital, where she is under the care of Dr. Stringer. Her room had belonged to a girl named Tammy, who at the start of the film is killed by an unseen force. That same force, a deformed figure, tries to attack her, but when she reports it to the powers that be, she is drugged and subjected to electroshock therapy.

Kristen meets the four other patients on the ward: childlike Zoey, seductress Sarah, artistic Iris, and wild child Emily. Iris is later killed by the deformed figure, who lobotomizes her. Kristen finds Iris’s sketch book and sees a drawing of that figure, captioned with the name, Alice Hudson, a former patient. Who was Alice, and what happened to her? And why did Kristen burn down that farmhouse?

Kristen and Zoey attempt a desperate escape.

I’ll stop here, because as I said, this a complex story and I don’t want to risk giving away too much. I’ve watched The Ward a few times since its release, and—some jump scares notwithstanding—I have no problem with it. Many reviewers just need to get a life.

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