The Ward (2010)
If you are a die-hard horror fan the state of one of its long standing masters recent output is a pretty grim state of affair. So I went to see John Carpenter’s latest offering with very low expectations, but did find one or two reasons to be cheerful.
In a very familiar set up Amber Heard plays Kristen a young girl who is forced into a psychiatric ward having been seized from in front of a burning house at the start of the film. Upon arrival she soon realises that the staff are not going to take any prisoners and that she is very much an outcast amongst many of the other patients. Things soon take a different turn when fellow inmates start getting killed off by a mysterious ghost like creature, and stories come to light about former patients. It soon dawns on Kristen than the only way to survive is to escape the ward and in the process she starts finding answers to the mystery.
Experiencing this made for TV, nuts and bolts b-picture was a bit like watching a mad professor unleash all his tools, but with little control or discipline. Sure there are many rough edges, and the plot follows a very predictable and uninspired route, with some dodgy set pieces, along with not the most convincing creature, but there are quite a few pleasures along the way too. There is a certain creepy atmosphere to proceedings, the score retains a dramatic impact of sorts, and for horror aficionados’ there are a few great scraggy set plays that really catch the eye, like the one with a sharp utensil being shoved through a girl’s eye, a moment like this goes back to the basics of old school horror as it is the unique sound, and the way you see just a little bit of blood splat out before the quick cut away which makes it so satisfying.
It is also fair to say that the young cast equip them self’s well, although ironically it is Heard in the lead role who is maybe the least convincing. I have to confess I did not see the twist coming, but then it is one I have seen a million times before so afterwards it left very little of an impression.
Within quite a humdrum film there were flashes of genius that you feel could not have come from any other director. So while the glory days are far off returning, this was a step in the right direction.
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Amber Heard, Lyndsy Fonseca, Mamie Gummer
Runtime: 88 min