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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Ward


Starring: Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker and Laura-Leigh
Warner Home Video
RRP: £20.41
Certificate: 18
Available 17 October 2011

After burning down a farmhouse, a young woman called Kristen finds herself incarcerated in the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital. At Ward 19 she meets four other girls, each with their own secrets. Kristen can remember nothing of her past, but she has more immediate problems. Although the psychiatrist and wardens will tell her nothing, it seems a violent ghostly figure is stalking the hospital. One girl went missing shortly before she arrived, and now it appears to be after the others. Kirsten makes a bid for freedom, but it isn’t only the Ward and the ghost that she needs to escape...

A very warm welcome back to my personal favourite film director of all time, Mr John Carpenter. Wow! This is his first return to the helm of a feature film in a little under ten years - with only a couple of episodes of Masters of Horror to help fill the gap. I’ve missed him. No, he didn’t write, co-produce and score this film, as he did many of his classic early releases, but at least he’s been tempted out of retirement to direct once again. Apparently, he was offered this script, pretty much hated it but gave his constructive criticism. Using his advice the script was hammered into shape; at this point Carpenter began to see potential but still believed it needed a lot of work. This man is no slouch (much as he may want us to believe it), he’s a recognised master at work, and straight away you begin to see the signs.

This film is shot very cleverly, showing you just what you need to know - and even then at strange angles, enhancing the eeriness of the real-life psychiatric hospital location. Those of you who have seen this film already will have noted the careful manner in which I describe the general synopsis above. There is a reveal to The Ward which is almost as staggering as The Sixth Sense. I watched the theatrical release when it emerged, and immediately wanted to watch it again, as it is undoubtedly a different film in hindsight. Even for the casual viewer there are plenty of jumps and scares, but for those who like to look more deeply this is an intelligent storyline shrouded in a supernatural cloak.

There are a number of interviews with cast and crew on this Blu-ray version, although I was hugely disappointed that the great man himself is on screen for less than three minutes. Also, all the questions asked are pretty much the same to everyone: What’s the film about? Where’s it set? What’s it like working with John Carpenter? I was, however, caught up in the enthusiasm of the producer who, being a confessed fanboy, says something to the effect of, “Anything with John Carpenter’s name above it is great. It could be John Carpenter’s Shopping List and I’d be convinced.” Why couldn’t we be gifted with one of his usually great feature commentaries?


Ty Power

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