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No A-Ward For This One
The Ward (DVD)
Member Name: cazkins
The Ward (DVD)
Advantages: Amanda Heard as a strong protagonist
Disadvantages: Lacked atmosphere & believability, nothing that new
I saw this advertised in Blockbuster and thought it looked like another run of the mill horror, just what I wanted really for a quiet night in. Although it was pretty much as I had expected; nothing great, some poor acting, not very believable, but a good-enough film for horror/thriller fans to zone out to.
The Ward falls within the psychological thriller category and was directed by John Carpenter (who has worked on lots of horror flicks through the years, but this marks his return to feature films in 7 or so years). Whilst his direction undoubtedly adds some flare to the proceedings, I wouldn't really say that it shone through.
This film introduces us to Kristen (played by Amanda Heard), who we see setting fire to an old barn house then being forced into a psychiatric hospital. The ward she's put in houses 4 other apparently psychotic women, but it seems that there's a secret lurking under the surface that no one wants to speak of. As Kristen can't remember her past life, can't remember why she's put here or what's going on, she's scared but desperately looking for answers, looking for a way out.
What she didn't count on was that the ward seems to be haunted. She's seeing Dr Stringer (played by Jared Harris) to talk about why she's there, to work through her issues and psychoticism. However, with girls going missing and reports of the deadly ghost, Alison, no one can be sure who is sane or not. Can she figure out what happened in that place, who the ghost is, before more people get hurt and it's too late to ever see the outside world again?
Obviously, this dates back to when there were such places, hence this is set in 1966 in North Bend, Oregon. I like the set up and the location, which reminded me of the stereotypical mental institutions. Despite the 60s clothing, however, it didn't really throw me back into that era enough to find it truly believable. What was also unrealistic was the craziness; the girls already in the ward didn't seem crazy, either they seemed quite normal or they seemed to be trying to hard to be 'crazy' (I'm using 'crazy' just to represent the stereotyped notion of the types of people in mental institutes, it's not that I think that's what they are). As for Kristen, she seems like your strong-willed antagonist, bolshie and assertive, which she pulls off fairly well. It's a shame about the other girls in the asylum because they really dragged down the realism. Not that it could have been too realistic, what with this film involving paranormal activity, of course.
As for the plot, it was rather unremarkable. The premise of the ghost and why she was there wasn't very original. However, there is a twist, which may be unexpected for some watching this and that's what makes it a psychological thriller. I guess I've just watched too many of these sorts of films so I had already considered this scenario near the beginning of the film.
Overall, I just felt that this lacked atmosphere and believability. It wasn't anything too new, the characters just didn't have the flair to make it creepy, I found myself getting irritated by little things that weren't quite right, and overall it just didn't get under my skin or absorb me into watching it enough to give it a good rating.
Released 2011, rated certificate 18
Selling on Amazon for £9.93
Summary: So-so, but not one that I really felt much for