By crackee, it’s Burl here! Yes, I’m reviewing yet another movie for you today, and this time it’s John Carpenter’s long-awaited return to feature filmmaking, The Ward! Ha ha, I’ve taken my sweet time in catching up with this one, mainly because I’d read some reviews of it! But I believe firmly that Carpenter is one of the twentieth century’s fundamental cinematic intelligences, so the bottom line is that I’ll happily watch anything he makes! The Thing is one of my all-time favourite movies ever made, I’m a big supporter of Prince of Darkness, and you already know what I think of Christine and Halloween and The Fog!
I was excited to hear about The Ward, but then everybody was kind of ho-hum about it, and it came around at the same time as Wes Craven’s horror comeback, My Soul To Take, which also was considered ho-hum! Worse than ho-hum, actually – more like po-pum or even bo-bum, ha ha! But I finally decided to give it a look, and yes, I must report that this is not one of John Carpenter’s better movies! It’s not his worst either, though – it’s no Escape From L.A.!
For perhaps no better reason than to obviate the cell phone question and keep certain superannuated psychotherapies in play, the movie is set in 1966! You have to keep reminding yourself that it’s 1966 though, as the period detail is rather slipshod, or so it seemed to ol’ Burl! A young lady, Kristin, is burning down a house, and the next thing you know she’s been popped into a psych ward overseen by Jared Harris, who makes a sinister presence indeed, as he played Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows!
There are a number of other young ladies in the ward, all with their own special problems and personality quirks, and they’re all being stalked by the ghost of yet another young lady, a ghoulish creature named Alice! Alice performs a number of semi-gory murders before a third-act twist makes us tally up the movies we’ve seen before that had more or less the same twist!
Frankly, the whole movie is made up of what I hate to call clichés! I hate to call them that because I think that word is so overused and frequently misapplied as to be meaningless; but frankly this picture is like one of those Scary Movie things, but without the jokes! Everything in it seems to have been imported whole from somewhere else! It’s trying to be one of the classic Asian spookshows I guess, but as with Big Trouble in Little China (a movie I love!), Carpenter really can’t quite get the elements quite right when he tries to ape the Asians! Ha ha!
But the movie is not all bad! There are a few effective sequences, and a couple of the classic Carpenter jumpers! The performances are generally pretty good (these ladies are committed in more ways than one, ha ha!), and I have to admit that the ending, while itself a well-traveled path, undercuts the clichéd nature of some of the earlier clichés! Ha ha, do you see what I mean? I guess you’ll have to watch the picture to know for sure!
It’s not the Carpenter comeback I might have wished for, but it’s not the complete blight some have claimed, either! I’m going to give The Ward a rousing two repetitive escape/recapture scenes!