Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1PanelReview John Carpenter's The Ward

Since I already did both Carpenter's original big hit classics Halloween and The Thing, let's have a look at his last released movie to date!

What it is: The Ward 

Which is: A psychological horror film
Directed by: John Carpenter
Year: 2010

The Ward was John Carpenter's big return to movies as a director. His last film prior to this one being the big B-movie scifi fest Ghosts of Mars which bombed terribly at the time. For this occasion Carpenter didn't compose the music as he often does, and he decided this time to focus on a sub-genre of horror he hadn't much explored this far, psychological horror! The movie almost stars an all-woman cast, featuring Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker and the always great Jared Harris. The story takes place in the 1960s, and follows a young woman named Kristen who has apparently been sent to a psychiatric hospital after setting an abandoned farmhouse on fire. She gets to meet the othr patients until she soon find out some mysterious creature is apparently hunting all of them for revenge... or is it?

What's Good about it: This is a pretty fun and original ride... but it doesn't look like so at the start. Heck, it doesn't look like so for the most part of the film.
It starts like a pretty bland and generic modern teen slasher flick. But then the mood sets in. And finally the ultimate payoff is well worth any strange first impressions or incoherence!
One thing the movie really gets right is the slow-paced odd creepy atmosphere.
And I'm probably one of the only people out there that would mention that has a good point, but I always love a movie that is able to clock just under the one hour and a half mark! So many horror movies nowadays specially drag on their exposition and keep all those scenes that would have been cut out in the post-production a decade ago.
Since this was directed by a master of the horror genre, the movie is able to get this really nice captivating feel that otherwise would have made this such a generic film!
This was John Carpenter return to film after a pretty long hiatus (the man usually takes about 4-5 years between each film - check that out! he was only really much active in the early 90s somehow). He is even able to get in a few iconic shots from some of his past films including some very Michael Myers-esque scenes here and there in the hospital.
The ending is really worth it and it explains all the strange occurrences of this hospital and all the questionable stuff you see through the whole film. (Like, why are there only a half dozen patients, all female, young and attractive? Where's everybody else? What kinda monster would act that way? How can they do all they do without much trouble from any form of security whatsoever?)

What's Bad about it: The film does feel really cliché. At first.
And all the characters are depicted so 1-dimensional. (Again, for a reason!)
And this is the worst psychiatric ward anyone has ever seen! But then again, it was the 60s... (The story was probably set then to explain the characterization of the doctors and a real lack of any kind of modern day tact)
The movie does feel kind of cheap. Even for Carpenter, who's used to working on such small budget. (I would point out these kind of films don't exactly need big blockbuster-budgets though)
After the payoff, it feels like this could have been so much more. Or at least played with our perceptions a little better/throw in some hints earlier on...

Overall: John Carpenter's The Ward is a pretty fun "little movie". Nothing really recommended much, mind you, but worth a look if you're a fan of the genre or the director.

His last film to date was definitively not his best movie ever done, but it's fun. And that's really all I can say.

After so many years, making so many classics in the horror genre John Carpenter simply wanted to make his own "Jacob's Ladder's" style psychological horror film. Something in a completely different tone than what he is mostly known for. A much simpler calmer movie instead of his more brutal gory films of old. Like he's been trying to cover as many genres as possible through his career these last few years (again, like his last B-movie scifi Ghosts of Mars or his western-horror

It's fun, without much pretenses and different. Make no mistake, this is no award-worthy motion picture, but it's all in good fun.
I give it: 2 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]

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