The Ward Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Chris McEneany, 21st August 2011.

Johhhhnnn Carpenter. I've heard of you. I heard you were … n't making movies any more.

Taken on its own, The Ward is no great shakes in a genre that is sadly all-too obvious to fans who will suss out what's going on very quickly indeed. But as an effective return to directing for a man so hopelessly lost in the doldrums for far too long, it is a remarkably effective reminder of the stylish skills that he once had in abundance.

The cast are very good, Amber Heard supplying plenty of gumption for the heroine and the group of female inmates all delivering fine and effective performances. The shocks are reasonably handled, even though they are a little too formulaic at the same time, but the overall atmosphere is delightfully unsettling and mysterious. And it is wonderful to see a film that so unashamedly sports that classic Carpenter look and sound. We may not have Dean Cundey behind the camera or Carpenter, himself, cooking-up some catchy synth tunes, but the influence of both keeps these essential departments well in line. The Ward also moves along at a fair clip, coming in at a brisk 88 minutes, Carpenter keeping things on the go, economical and without padding. It's true that the films mimics a cluster of other psycho-thrillers rather too closely, but this is a rusty director finding his feet again and I enjoy how he's handled the material.

This US release is horribly underwhelming with regards to supplements, unfortunately. It's always great to hear JC on a chat-track, but the one here has only the occasional gem to be savoured, and the pairing-up with Jared Harris leads the whole thing into a rather dull ramble with altogether too much mutual praise and half-hearted Q & A. Should have gotten Amber Heard to the mike.

Transfer-wise, this is only a middling affair. Neither video nor audio offer anything to shout about, and actually result in a rather flat experience on Blu-ray. But, hey, the good news is that John Carpenter is back and his work here pretty much eclipses the bad taste left by Ghosts Of Mars. Now that he's climbed back on the horse, we have every right to expect great things again.

Personally, I really enjoyed The Ward and I had been more than prepared to find it a disaster. Sure, it's been done before … but this is John Carpenter's take on it … and to some people that means a helluva lot.

What's he going to do next?

Well, as MacReady would say, “Why don't we just wait here for a little while … see what happens.”

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