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The Ward
BLU-RAY disk
08.25.2011 By: J.A. Hamilton
The Ward order
Director:
John Carpenter

Actors:
Amber Heard
Danielle Panabaker
Jared Harris

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Kristen may or may not be all that stable when it comes to her frame of mind, and having the cops pick her up outside a farmhouse she just burnt down isn't helping. That said, she ends up at the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital and quickly realizes something isn't right as the other girls start disappearing without a trace.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
John Carpenter's name's been buzzing through my mind of late as everywhere I look I'm seeing the trailer for the remake/prequel/Hollywood moochtrain of Johnny C's THE THING. I loved the original, but this new one looks like an up to date, flashier replica of the original sadly lacking the awesomeness that is Kurt Russell (you could almost say that the creature from the original survived, got refrozen and has now thawed out and cloned itself for round two). One of my favourite flicks of all time is IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, one reason (of many) Carpenter will always have my support. Now THE WARD didn't look as though it was going to give me anything new, and it didn't, which I can handle as long as I feel like they at least attempted to push the envelope. Sadly, that stubborn mofo refused to budge.

Where did the film go wrong? Well, it certainly wasn't the casting. I'm loving every second of Amber Heard I can get as not only is she drop dead gorgeous, she's one of the few female leads to pop up in the past few years who can actually bring it when it comes to acting prowess. Recently I really dug her in DRIVE ANGRY but also the underrated gem nobody head of, THE JONESES (wicked movie if you haven't seen it). Heard handles herself well here as the woman of the hour and even holds her own against orderlies twice her size and a crazy ghost that can come out of nowhere and do just about anything it wants. Not bad for a sassy chick who weighs no more than a buck o five.

The story of a chick getting tossed in a loony bin where things apparently go bump and splash in the night ain't exactly new territory, but again, I'll bite as long as we're going somewhere. The flashbacks were cool, the gritty institution painted the grim picture needed to create a sense of fear and danger, but this DeLorean seriously derailed off a cliff once it hit eighty-eight miles per hour. Obviously I can't tell you the ending, but I was sorely disappointed. Not only was is very unoriginal, it was pretty much the inbred child of two other films which were far superior (you'll no doubt know which ones after this flick's shown you the goods). I'm not gonna point fingers or throw stones but this isn't the type of ending I was expecting from a John Carpenter backed film, especially after being MIA for so long.

THE WARD had its moments, mostly due to the mad skills Carpenter has behind the lens and the competent amount of acting talent backing the game. Not sure why they chose the sixties for this timeframe, but I'm assuming it was supposed to help us believe the patients actually had a chance in hell of escaping (note to the facility's architect: call me crazy, but I don't think the opening to the air duct should be located at eye level in one of the patient washroom stalls. I'm no expert on the subject but it feels like that should be a no brainer). The ghost was a little strange as well, I dug the secrecy and build-up but some of the pieces there didn't make a hell of a lot of sense. Either way, this isn't the comeback I was hoping for as a Carpenter fan but maybe he just needed to throw one out there as a warm-up. Here's hoping her IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS 2.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary: Director John Carpenter is joined by writer Jared Harris try very hard to sound convinced this is a solid and original effort. In all honesty, Carpenter pulls his weight but he should have fired the writer and either wrote it himself or found someone better.

Previews: There's a theatrical trailer and a handful of others that shoot before the feature.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This flick isn't terrible, to tell you the truth, it's quite watchable at times despite the fact that it probably shouldn't be. Sure, this is totally rental territory but there's a lot worse out there for rent so the complaints should be minimal. And if all else fails, watch IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS again and all will be well.
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