Conor Mills | Freelance Automotive and Travel Journalist

Freelance Automotive and Travel Journalist

Review: The Ward

Posted by Admin On January - 26 - 2011

The Ward is chilling in parts, but ultimately lacks character depth and originality.

Directing his first feature in almost a decade, John Carpenter has credited Mick Garris as the main catalyst behind his welcome comeback. Inspired by Gariss’ TV series, Masters of Horror, Carpenter reportedly enjoyed working on the low-budget, fast-paced project so much he wanted to try to make a film using the same principles. The outcome, The Ward, is a psychological thriller with elements of the classic horror style.

Set in a mental health institution in the 1960s, the film begins with lead character Kristen (Amber Heard) being sectioned to a secluded ward of a psychiatric hospital. She has no idea why she has been admitted and can’t remember anything about her life up to this point. Inhabiting the ward are four girls of a similar age to Kristen, each representing a different clichéd stereotype of troubled youth.

Soon after joining the ward, Kristen begins to see unexplained ghost-like figures wandering the halls at night. Unsurprisingly, no one is forthcoming with answers, and the mere utterance of the sightings is enough to send the doctors and patients into an exaggerated state of paranoia.

As the girls start mysteriously disappearing one-by-one, it’s only a matter of time before Kristen joins them. She struggles to stay alive long enough to escape the seemingly inescapable confines of the ward, and soon begins to uncover the horrifying truth of what really lies beneath the surface.

Eluding from the subtlety of Carpenter’s early work, The Ward has little interest in creating mood and building tension, instead opting for cheap scares and Saw-like brutality. The supporting characters lack depth and personality and a bizarre last-minute twist verges on the ridiculous.

Frighteningly similar in both tone and script to Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, The Ward is disappointing by Carpenter’s standards and is some way short of the return to form fans had been anticipating.

Original publication: Little White Lies

Original online version: Click here