Friday, May 27, 2011

John Carpenter's The Ward (2010)

Master of Horror John Carpenter returns to the genre with a pretty darn good film. The Ward is far from Carpenter's best, but let's be honest, Carpenter's best films are pretty much flawless.

The Ward follows the story of Kristen (Amber Heard), a young woman who was recently placed in a mental hospital with four other young women. Kristen finds out that that the ward is haunted by a malevolent specter and tries to prevent it from hurting the other girls. A very simple, yet effective story. There are some great, classic Carpenter moments here and Carpenter does a great job setting the mood. Frequently the face of the ghost appears in the background, but it's not an "OMG LOOK THERE'S THE SCARY FACE" moment where the music gives the audience a huge cue and the face becomes the focus of the shot. The face is just there, watching, and it can only be seen if one is really looking for it. I thought that this subtlety was pure brilliance and very refreshing considering the fact that lately all horror movies consist of scary images popping up as stupid jump scares.

Unfortunately the acting failed in a couple of places. Amber Heard was good at looking pensive and confused, but whenever she tried to interrogate the doctors about what was going on in the ward, her acting was pretty bad. There was also some unnecessary CGI, which is always minus points in my book.

The score was reminiscent of Goblin's classic Suspiria scare and although I was sad that Carpenter didn't do his own score, I enjoyed listening to it and it wasn't horribly overbearing.

So even though The Ward is definitely not the best of Carpenter's work, it's still far better than most contemporary horror films. I hope that Carpenter's return to horror means that he has some more projects on the way. 7/10

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