The Ward (2010) *
D: John Carpenter
C: Amber Heard, Lyndsy Fonseca, Danielle Panabaker, Mamie Gummer, Jared Harris, Mika Boorem, Sean Cook, Laura-Leigh, Sydney Sweeney, Jillian Kramer, Milos Milicevic, Sali Sayler, D.R. Anderson, Susanna Burney
P: A young woman placed in a mental ward must contend with having to deal with a vengeful ghost that is murdering off the other patients.
Disappointing return to the horror genre for director John Carpenter. The Ward is bland and uninspired. It plays out like a modest budgeted variation on Shutter Island, but without the suspense, visual sophistication or top notch cast that helped in part to make Shutter Island a memorable film experience. The Ward spins a story that involves elements of mystery, but the answers to that mystery are all too obvious. The final twist, the big reveal at the end isn't even all that surprising.
The overall art direction, sets, costuming, makeup, etc. while competent are nothing remarkable or distinguished. Leading lady Amber Heard, who has shown she has considerable star presence in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane or even in the poorly received remake of The Stepfather, fails to make her character engaging or relateable to audiences. She is the centerpiece to The Ward. If audiences care about her, then they are going to care about what happens in The Ward. Unfortunately, she fails to make that kind of connection that would have made it so that people actually care about her character.
The Ward also fails to utilize the dramatic aspects of the story. The film is set in a mental ward after all. The Ward could have explored the distinct personalities of each of its female characters and what is going on with them. It could have explored the relationship between the patients and the staff, but The Ward fails to provide any meaningful character development. The Ward could have delved into the practices involved with mental illness and how they tried to treat it back then, but alas, another element that The Ward fails to explore.
The Ward had so many possibilities, because the film's core premise lends itself to so many different story tangents, but the film gets lost in generic storytelling that fails to bring anything interesting or remotely compelling to the table. [R] 93 mins.