Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days of Horror-Day 21: The Ward (2010)

(dir. John Carpenter)

*First time viewing

     John Carpenter returns to horror movies with The Ward, in which a young woman in 1966 is sent to a mental facility after burning down a farm house. In the facility, Kristen meets the other patients who are keeping a secret from her about the dead woman she keeps seeing in the hallways. As the girls in the ward are killed one by one, Kristen tries to find the reason behind the murders.

     The Ward is Carpenter’s first feature in almost ten years. I wish I could say it was a return to form for a master of genre films, but it sadly isn’t. While the script isn’t original it’s not like Carpenter hasn’t borrowed from pre-existing films before and turned out successful and sometimes great features. The true fault lies with the fact that the movie is so painfully devoid of style it could have been directed by any newcomer, instead of a virtual wizard with decades of experience. It’s visually polished to the point of being dull and the film’s lack of personality is disappointing for a director whose earlier works had the distinctness of being John Carpenter films.

     The story is dreadfully boring, offering nothing in terms of scares or compelling concepts. The characters are ill-defined psychiatric hospital clichés complete with the girl who sings to herself and a Nurse Ratched knock off. While the twist ending is somewhat interesting, it doesn’t save the preceding 80 minutes. If this film had been made during the 70s or 80s, perhaps with Carpenter on script and music duty as well as directing, it could have been at least an entertaining ride. But modern filmmaking doesn’t seem to mesh with Carpenter’s skills.

Scare Factor: 1/5 As someone who has an immense amount of respect for John Carpenter, trust me when I say this is one film in his filmography you can skip. Save yourself the time and watch one of his classics instead.

**Available to watch on Netflix Instant

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