Review: The Ward (2010)

The Ward (2010)

Directed by: John Carpenter | 88 minutes | horror, thriller | Actors: Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Laura-Leigh, Lyndsy Fonseca, Danielle Panabaker, Jared Harris, Sali Sayler, Susanna Burney, DR Anderson, Sean Cook, Jillian Kramer, Mark Chamberlin, Andrea Petty, Tracy Schornick, Kent Kimball, Joseph O ‘Shaugnessy, Patrick Treadway, Bev Holsclaw, Sydney Sweeney, Mika Boorem

‘The Ward’ is the comeback of director John Carpenter. In the 70s and 80s his name stood for quality. Although he owes his nickname ‘The Master Of Terror’ to horror films, think of ‘The Thing’, ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Mist’, Carpenter has also made a big contribution to action films, think ‘Big Trouble’. in Little China’ and ‘Escape from New York’. Unfortunately, later productions have seriously tarnished the good name of this filmmaker, with ‘Ghosts of Mars’ released in 2001 as a tragic low. The best man has been silent since then in the field of feature films. He watched an episode for ‘Masters of Horror’, but after that it was eerily quiet around ‘Master of Terror’. Can ‘The Ward’ put Carpenter back on the map or should he retire?

‘The Ward’ revolves around Kristen (Heard), a troubled girl. When she is arrested after setting a fire, she awakens in a mental institution. Doctor Stringer (Harris) wants to help her, but Kristen isn’t open to it. She wants to leave. Together with four other girls, including the rebellious Emily (Gummer), she tries to make an escape plan. What the rebellious Kristen doesn’t know is that the facility has a dark secret. A deadly secret.

This is a horror movie by the book. Carpenter is an old-fashioned director and that translates into clichés. Shock effects are caused by noise, frolicking with your expectations and a lot of suggestion. There is nothing wrong with that and in this time very refreshing. The horror film in 2012 has turned into a genre in which everything is shown. The ‘Saw’ franchise has already stretched the boundaries quite a bit and the stream of Japanese splatter films takes it one step further (say bulk load). The fact that Carpenter leans on suggestion and shows the atrocities ‘offscreen’ is remarkable in this day and age.

The great thing about this old-fashioned approach is that it still works. You know something’s coming out of that medicine cabinet door—the only question is when—but you’re still shocked. This is due to the strong sound effects and the build-up of tension. Carpenter masters that trick very well. It also helps that the cast is not unkind. Amber Heard is charismatic as the heroine and Mamie Gummer (the daughter of Meryl Streep) also plays well. Jared Harris is also well cast as a mysterious doctor. Can he be trusted or not? The location is also excellently chosen.

‘The Ward’ shows that Carpenter is willing to fight his way back to the top. He won’t succeed with this movie, but his fans can breathe a sigh of relief. This isn’t a bad movie at all.

Comments are closed.