I think it’s fair to say that John Carpenter hasn’t made a decent horror film in quite a while. Granted he has been off the scene for a few years, so I’m willing to cut the guy some slack. But before his decade long hiatus, we were treated to the likes of Ghosts of Mars and Vampire.

Titles that are hardly in the same league as They Live, Halloween and my personal favourite from Carpenter, The Thing.

With The Ward, Carpenter finally returns to doing what he always does best. Building up tension to an unbearable level, before shocking the audience every now and then with a creepy visual.

Making use of long tracking shots and ominous, low camera angles, Carpenter ticks all the right boxes in delivering a film that starts off as both creepy and compelling.

Starring Amber Heard as The Ward’s latest patient, Kristen, we learn that all is not what it seems in this institution and pretty soon she begins to suspect that there is some supernatural business going on.

As the film progresses, it begins to slip into the usual cliché of Kristen questioning her sanity and it’s at this stage that the proceedings begin to lose part their charm.

However, this is countered by some very strong performances not just by Amber Heard, but by the supporting cast. Mammie Gummer puts in a notable performance as someone who generally comes across as completely bonkers and Danielle Panabaker excels as the particularly bitchy Sarah.

Special mention should also go to Mark Kilian whose score adds another creepy layer to the atmosphere, with it’s unique use for female voices (featured in the trailer below).

Positioning itself somewhere in between One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and The Shinning, it’s somewhat predictable twist may be a disappointment for some, but unlike other films it doesn’t suffer from any plot holes, nor does it have a smug sense of self gratification.

Overall, The Ward is worthy film to John Carpenter’s portfolio. By no means is it his best work, but it’s definitely the best effort he has delivered in a while.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.

  • Col

    Thanks. 🙂  

    I dunno, I’d say that Girl, Interrupted gives it a good run for it’s money.  Psych wards can’t get much more glamorous than Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie.

  • Have there ever been better looking girls in a psych ward? Nice review! -Kyle, CinematicMethod.com