Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Ward - dvd review

It should go without saying that John Carpenter is responsible for some of the best horror films of the last thirty years. The problem with this is the weight it adds to any films the man makes now. The Ward, his first film in a decade, should be viewed on its own terms rather than compared to the greats.

In the 1960s, a young woman, Kristen, is held in a mental hospital after torching a farmhouse for no obvious reason. Inside the hospital, she meets the other inmates of the nameless ward: a small group of young woman all held for unspecified reasons. It soon turns out there is another detainee in the ward and she's not too friendly. Kristen needs to find out what secret is being kept if she wants to save her life as well the lives of the other girls.

There are positives to the film. Carpenter knows what makes an atmosphere and some of the camerawork is superb. Amber Heard as Kristen gives a decent performance, and the location is suitably creepy. However, the script lets the film down especially in the reveal. I won't spoil anything. Suffice to say, I was left with a large sense of déjà vu. Another let down comes in the shape of a predictable and cheap scare at a certain point. I think in this case, we can blame the studio and producers for thinking all horror film fans want is an obvious jump scene at a precise point. Carpenter is a cannier film maker than this; he knows horror comes from character and situation, not from someone shouting BOO in your ear.

In any case, The Ward is worth checking out. It's not a classic by any means, but it's a welcome return to the genre from Carpenter. I hope it's not another ten years before his next film.


  1. I'd watch this - like you said, it's probably not a classic but it would make for an entertaining night.

  2. Jen, if you do give it a go, let me know what you think.