Film #357: THE WARD
2 out of 5 stars
With THE WARD, John Carpenter returns to the director’s chair and, sadly, delivers an utterly lukewarm product. Casting is the film’s first - and most obvious - weak-point in that all of the supposed inmates of the asylum appear to be nothing more than models or actresses who are “dressed down” to look “plain.” The ruse, quite frankly, doesn’t work for a minute. Further, their performances are so bad (and straight out of first year acting class) that even the smallest of things that might make the characters believable get screwed up time and time again. Motivations are vague, characters are thin, and the villain… well, other than the use of some decent makeup fx, is little more than a trumped-up boogeyman… er… woman. It’s second weak-point is that the story here is so riddled with clichés and conveniently unaware hospital staff that any drama or horror gets sucked out and the end devolves into a confusing chase that culminates in a resolution so trite and yes… clichéd that it is infuriating. Don’t get me wrong, the film is made well and Carpenter has always been able to craft a shot, but that is of little consolation in THE WARD. This might have been better received twenty years ago, but… as it plays now, the film is simply something that is too familiar and too hackneyed to be effective.