Can I tell you how glad I am that John Carpenter is back? I have loved this man’s films since I was a kid and to have him getting back to form is amazing to me. Sure, this isn’t a homerun, this isn’t the ‘good old days’ but this is a big step forward. See, I liked Ghosts of Mars, it was ok, and so was Vampires, but neither was really that solid. The Ward, this is solid.
When a young woman with no recollection of her past is caught burning a house down she has seemingly no connection to the house she is taken to an asylum so the doctors there can decide what to do with her. What the girl finds there is that things are not as they seem. The other patients are secretive, are hiding something, as are the staff, and there seems a shadow over the entire ward itself. When the girl begins to see something that seems to be stalking her when she isn’t looking and the feeling that there is something wrong here grows. Slowly she learns the secret of the ward, the story of the dark thing stalking them all, but can she figure out what this thing is and how to stop it before it’s too late?
The thing about the story here is that it’s too familiar. The film plays like two films I have seen recently and that is not Carpenter’s fault but is the fault of the writers. The story is a very simple ghost tale but that is fine, that isn’t an issue. The thing is that Carpenter makes this film rise above that simple story. The actors are good, the sets are nice, the effects are decent, but in the end this is Carpenter’s show and he proves that he is ready to get back into the full swing. What he needs is a killer script. He needs that script and who knows how good it can be?
It has been so sad to see the great horror directors wilt over the years, wilt under the pressure of a studio system with no loyalty and short memories. It is rare and nice to see John Carpenter showing that he still has his skills, still has his eye, and can still make good films. I hope that some of the other old school guys come through as well.
This is not a great film, at all, but it’s a darn solid one, and is a very good watch. The very end is as trite and dreadful as any ‘80s horror film but the rest was so good that I forgave it. I really recommend this and hope this is the start of a new era for the grand legend of horror.
7 out of 10