John Carpenter is a director of many faults but his films are the cream of the crop in terms of a cult following. Carpenter is mostly known for his first film back in 1978, “Halloween.” He has other cult clascs such as “The Thing,” “Prince Of Darkness” and “The Fog.” He is known for his straight forward filmmaking technics that are shot in an interesting fashion and really are driven by the story more than anything. After ten year of being on hiatus, Carpenter returns with “The Ward.”
I would call myself a moderate John Carpenter fan with some of my personal favorites being “Halloween,” “The Thing,” Prince Of Darkness” and “Christine.” He has a lot of dull and just plain bad films but I would say the elements and ideas in his films have helped make the genre what it is today. The question is, does he still have it after all this time?
“The Ward” has a clasc style and feel which Carpenter’s film usually do have with it being a period piece and having mainstream actresses starring in the film. I would call them the up and coming scream queens. We have Amber Heard (Zombieland, And Soon The Darkness, Drive Angry) who is plays Kristen. The star and main focus of the film. Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine, How I Met Your Mother) playing Iris and Danielle Panabaker (Friday The 13th, The Crazies, Piranha 3DD) playing Sarah. As well a few other unknown actresses with not much to their names. The cast is female driven for the most part and they do an okay job with the acting on that front. But is does make sense overall that the characters are one dimenonal because of the ending of the film. The girls are cliche and so is everything about them. This in my opinion is intentionally done to get you thinking after the film is over. It defiantly had that effect on me.
The whole movie is focus on getting out of the ward after coming in contact with some shock therapy and a questionable ghost roaming the halls and rooms during the night. The movie gets a bit slow half way through with the characters interacting and the way they go about trying to get break out of the ward. I think on a re-watch, this film gets better and I actually
had to watch the film twice to write this review because of the twist and what it presents for the set-up of the film suddenly makes sense. The one and only time other than “The Ward” that I felt like that was Adam Mason’s “The Devil’s Chair,” which is a great film especially on a re-watch.
Really it is all Amber Heard leading the pack of crazies. There all just scared of this ghost who just keeps popping up in the most randomness of places. The editing in the movie is brutal at some points. Thats where I’ll say that the film is at it’s laziest. With some pointless night scenes. Like, how many times can we a shot of a hallway with a window at the end of it with light coming through that window from the thunder and lightening outde. It gets tiresome.
The scares for the most part feel lazy at times but there are some nice scares towards the end of the film that I really liked and I did particularly like the lighting and the dolly shots that Carpenter uses throughout the core of the film. Defiantly a nice refreshing look to a horror film. Unlike most today which have this glossy, dark, raw look to them. Carpenter did not do the score in the film, something that usually comes with the package. It was instead done by Mark Kilian who gave a fresh take on a score that is so 60’s horror based.
The twist is awesome. I think thats what saved the movie from being okay to good. Not that the movie is great but if they were to focus on having more of the ghost in the film over the mellow drama of getting out of the ward, I think the film would have been better off. Put more scares in there, maybe even cut the film down ten minutes. I feel like it would play better.
Overall, I like “The Ward” it has too many good elements to write it off completely and the way it is approached from a screenwriting point of view is very well done. I think the excution by Carpenter is the reason it has it’s problems. Again, keep in mind that I had to watch this film twice to write this review because the last twenty minutes of this movie was so good. I had to reevaluate what I thought about this film.