The Ward (9/17/12)

The WardMovie Two Hundred Fourteen

A group of young women in a mental institution are being killed by a ghost in The Ward.

A young woman named Kristen (Amber Heard) sets fire to an old farmhouse and is brought to a mental institution for treatment. While at the facility she meets the other girls; Iris (Lyndsy Fonseca), Sarah (Danielle Panabaker), Emily (Mamie Gummer), and Zoey (Laura Leigh). Kristen is given the room that used to belong to a girl named Tammy, who we see attacked by what appears to be a zombie/ghost of a young woman. As her doctor, Dr. Stringer (Jared Harris) tries different therapies, the girls are being killed one by one by the ghost, a former patient named Alice. Kristen needs to get to the bottom of the mystery before any more girls are killed.

Directed by horror master John Carpenter, The Ward actually surprised me. It was recommended to me by Written In Blood and while I had never read a glowingly positive review of the film, I was left mostly pleased by it. Anyone who grew up with John Carpenter films has likely been nonplussed by his endeavors as of late and The Ward certainly doesn’t hearken back to a day when Carpenter’s name was synonymous with horror films, but it is enjoyable enough.

The plot of The Ward is not exactly mindblowingly original and may not offer many surprises for fans of the genre, but the ground it treads is still sort of fresh. The cast for The Ward is actually not as bad as I expected. Since movies like this tend to have some horrible actresses that are only there to go topless, it seems they opted to favor acting instead of toplessness (spoiler alert, I don’t think there’s any toplessness). Amber Heard is not exactly going to win any awards for her performance, but in what could have been a painful-to-watch performance, she actually does a pretty decent job. Also, Meryl Streep’s daughter is in this, so it’s almost like a Streep impersonator, which is kind of fun.

I’m not going to try to sell The Ward too much, but in terms of recent horror movies (and more importantly, recent Carpenter movies) it’s probably worth your time. The Ward may not be the revival of John Carpenter as a master of horror, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I give it 3 “LOOK BEHIND YOU”s out of 5.

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