John Carpenter is not back. The Ward doesn't look like Carpenter, feel like Carpenter and it most certainly doesn't play like a Carpenter flick. At all. Worse still, it commits the cardinal sin of all cardinal sins... but more on that later.
And really quick, in reference to the blurb on the poster "John Carpenter proves he is still the master of shock"... Carpenter was never a master of shock. Nuance, atmosphere, dread... but not Shock. Even if he was, this movie is neither shocking, nor is it a throwback to his supposed shock-filled hey day. So again, some jerk-nut gets a poster blurb without even remotely knowing what he's talking about. Dick. Liar. End rant.
The Ward is the story of Kristen (Amber Heard); a mentally unstable hottie who is institutionalized after setting fire to a farmhouse. She's locked up in "The Ward" with a small group of other hotties, all of whom are bat shit crazy, and yet remain totally tap-able. Some, double tap-able.
It isn't long before "odd" things begin to happen around the ward, and Kristen begins to see ghostly visages of a monstrous looking chick skulking around, stealing her blankets, and playing what looks to be hide and seek with her and her ward-mates. Speaking of her ward-mates, they start disappearing one by one, and a terrible secret lies at the heart of it all...
The Ward is a mildly promising movie that never delivers what it could have, or perhaps should have. Amber Heard is as engaging as always, but not even her Horror Hottie elegance can save this movie from the abyss of the bland. We also have a thing for Danielle Panabaker here at THC, feeling that she is too cute to be so underrated and underused in Hollywood.
*Here's something I forgot to mention: Jared Harris is great in this as well. Then again, we love him in AMC's Mad Men, so we're biased.
There isn't much along the lines of tension in this movie, nor are there many true scares to be had, although the ghost of Alice is pretty creepy to behold when she makes her appearances. It's fairly obvious early on what's really going on with the plot, and so much of the movie was spent with us just kinda waiting for it to finish.
HUGE SPOILERS ARE COMING RIGHT NOW , so read this paragraph at your own risk! Remember that Cardinal Sin I mentioned earlier? The one that we here at THC consider to be the most Cardinal of Cardinal Sins? Well, here it is: It's all in her fucking head. Truth be told, The Ward is very much like Identity (the 2003 John Cusack thriller.) It's near impossible for us to get behind a movie that negates it's entire content with a final twist like this, which is why we weren't huge fans of Inception, Shutter Island, or Identity.... if it's all in their head, or all a dream, we've been cheated, and fuck that. High Tension is about the only movie like this to make us not hate it despite its "never happened" ending, but that's because it did happen, just differently than we saw it unfold. So yeah. There's that.
HUGE SPOILERS ARE OVER NOW.
The faults of this movie are hardly Carpenter's, as his direction was decent, nor are any of the cast to blame; they make the most out of the material given them. Truth be told, it's the script that's shit, so it's all the Rassmussen Brothers fault. Really guys, don't write a movie immediately after watching a John Cusack flick again, alrighty? Good.
John Carpenter is still a hero to horror fans everywhere, and an all time great in the genre. Nothing will ever change that. We can only hope and pray that he returns to form someday and gives us another loveable classic like those of yesteryear. (For the record, we loved Ghosts of Mars, so suck it, haters.)
C- The Ward isn't a great film by any means, and it certainly doesn't feel like much of a Carpenter film, but there are a few good ideas present that make it mildly entertaining. Aside from the infuriatingly lame twist ending, I can't help but think that this movie wont do much for horror fans, since it's not very engaging on a horrific level. This being only the 2nd feature length film that John Carpenter's made since 1998's Vampires, it's disheartening that it's so lackluster.
The Ward hits VOD on June 8th, and a limited theatrical run on July 8th. Meh. Now here's a little Danielle Panabaker for that ass...