Sunday, October 12, 2014

Film Review: The Ward (2010)

The Ward (Review)
United States/2010
Format Watched For Review: Blu-ray (Arc Entertainment)
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...Carpenter is still more than capable of conjuring effective suspense and horror..."
After burning down a farmhouse, Kristen (Amber Heard) is institutionalized and finds herself haunted by a sinister force...

The Ward follows Kristen in 1966 as she settles in at this psychiatric hospital. Kristen insists she's not crazy, but she has no recollection of the events prior to the fire. Anyway, Kristen, as well as the other patients, find themselves being haunted by a zombie-like ghost. The deeper she investigates, the more death surrounds her and the more grizzly secrets she discovers. It's a straight-forward horror film. The ending is predictable, but I enjoyed it.

I enjoyed the horror in The Ward. The film has a great focus on atmosphere and suspense. Fortunately, the film often builds up great suspense and tension. The payoff is usually a jump-scare, but don't fret, these are actually impressive. Most of the time, jump-scares just don't do it for me, but these actually gave me a jolt at least a handful of times. There are also some subtle visuals that I really enjoyed, as well, like a shadowy or ghost figure in the background – I like those little details.

I think the biggest downfall for The Ward is the acting. It's passable, especially by horror standards, but it just doesn't really bring you into this world – it doesn't help bring you to the 60s. Also, none of the cast play a believable psychiatric patient. Amber Heard is occasionally good, but whenever the role becomes demanding, she just sounds off and overacted. Otherwise, I enjoyed the cinematography and I especially enjoyed the camerawork. The music is good, too, I just wish John Carpenter got his hands dirty. On that note, John Carpenter's direction is great. Aside from the acting, Carpenter is still more than capable of conjuring effective suspense and horror, and the film is also well paced and balanced.

Overall, The Ward is a very good horror film. It's not a groundbreaking or even original film, but it's hard to find a film that's truly original nowadays, anyway. The horror, which is what I expect most will be watching for, is very good, though. I enjoyed the atmosphere, the suspense, the subtle imagery, and even the jump-scares – it's very well rounded. The acting... that's another story.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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