John Carpenter fans have had a long wait between films from their favorite genre man. The director of cult favorites like “Halloween,” “Escape From LA” and “The Thing” has been on a hiatus of sorts but finally returns to multiplexes after a 10-year absence with this week’s “The Ward.”
This psychological thriller takes place in a special ward in a mental hospital and revolves around new arrival Kristen (Amber Heard), who has no idea how she ended up institutionalized. As she slowly gets to know the other patients, played by Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker, Lyndsy Fonseca and Laura-Leigh, she realizes they are all hiding a terrible and deadly secret.
When MTV News caught up with Carpenter and Heard to talk about their thriller, we asked how much of a creepy factor was added into the film simply by the practical effect of their filming location — an actual abandoned mental hospital.
“It was in an abandoned building on a campus with crazy people in a mental institution, the criminally insane,” Carpenter explained of their set.
“We were cozily sandwiched between the prison for the criminally insane and the hospital for the mentally insane,” Heard added. “We had this prime little location right between the two. We were fenced in.”
Carpenter said they didn’t have to do anything to make the set look scary.
“It’s an old building, a dusty old building that they had left and was perfect for us,” he said. “What’s scary about this location was that it was real. It was just creepy.”
When asked to explain if there are any signature shots or nods to Carpenter’s previous work that fans might appreciate in this film, the veteran genre director said he can’t please everyone, so he focuses on stories that he likes first.
“John Carpenter fans are unexpected human beings. A lot live under freeways and cardboard boxes, a lot live in mental institutions,” he said. “I really can’t think about them too much when I make a movie. The prime inspiration for me is the story. What kind of story? I got typecast as a horror director in the late ’70s with ’Halloween,’ but I’ve managed to have a career by doing different things,” he revealed. “This one was great, an all-female cast, an ensemble cast who had to work together in an isolated dark shadowy location, and there’s something walking around at night. [It was] great fun.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Ward.”
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