Review: The Ward

Today we have a special review as a guest contributor and friend of mine had the opportunity to see John Carpenter’s The Ward at the Toronto International Film Festival and offered to review it for the site.

Jason DeBattista is a treasure of horror film knowledge and a true aficionado of the craft. Check out his review of The Ward

Genre: Horror
Directed by: John Carpenter
Staring: Amber Heard, Danielle Panabaker, Lyndsy Fonseca, Jared Harris, Mamie Gummer, Laura-Leigh, Mika Boorem, Sean Cook
Released: September 13, 2010 (Toronto International Film Festival world premiere)


Kristen (Amber Heard) Burns down a farm house gets arrested and put in a mental hospital, where secrets are all around her. Kristen’s claims of not being crazy even with no knowledge of why she is in the ward. When the lights go out the girls in the ward are locked in their room which is when the dark hospital comes alive with sights and sounds that can’t be real or can they?


John Carpenter has always had a good visual eye, but in this movie it is just amazing to look at. Taking place in 1966 all the sets/locations, costumes and cars/furniture all feel right. The actual ward in the title actually feels very authentic which makes sense since they shot the film at a hospital/prison for the criminally insane, which was/is still being used in that capacity.

All the performances in the film are pretty good, Amber Heard being the one with the most screen time has to be the most believable performance manages to play her characters fear, confusion and anger all very well. Danielle Panabaker who normally plays a nice girl gets to play the flirty bitch this time around and she pulls it off very well. The Good Doctor (Jared Harris) manages to bring a good sense of reality to the film by managing to be the sane one or the point of normal for the audiences which makes the “crazy” characters seem that much more crazy.

One thing that I found that worked for the movie was the jump scares, the movie would be at a slow point and then something would jump out and grab your attention.


I said that everything looked very much of the era, that was true except for one thing. I found that Amber Heard, even with all the period clothes, looked like she was a girl from 2010 dressed like a girl from 1966. It’s not a huge complaint but it is something I noticed. One element that I hate to write in the bad section for a John Carpenter film is the music doesn’t really help the film. Now it doesn’t hurt it but Carpenter is known for scores that help build tension in his films and this one didn’t. Even in a film like Vampires which a lot of people don’t like the score helps the film.

Now I put the jump scares in as a good thing but I have to put it in as a con as well since they can be cheap scares and not everyone will like them. The main complaint I have with this film is that it tends to be a slow film the pacing seems a little off, it doesn’t wreck the film but it is something that I noticed.


If you want to take a date to a movie where he/she will jump or grab at you during the movie you should check this out when it hits theatres. The flick is pretty good, I had a fun time watching it. The ending almost wrecked the film but in the last 30 or so seconds it made up for it. The score wasn’t great but the production design was. All the performances were very good even if Amber doesn’t look like she’s from the 60’s. Overall it’s a film horror/Carpenter fans should watch. If you have hated the last few movies John Carpenter has made then you should give this a chance as it is very different that those movies.

I give John Carpenter’s The Ward a 7 out of 10

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6 thoughts on “Review: The Ward

  1. Rodney would have probably given it a 6 out of 10.

    Anyways, this review was interesting, but I don’t feel like I know much more than if I’d just looked at the title :-\

    I’m smelling Haunting of Molly Hartley status (in terms of cheap scares, cliche characters and ending).

    Hopefully I’m wrong though!

      1. I guess to be fair, I’ll explain.

        Have the time, when I’m reading your reviews, I have no idea what rating you’re going to give it. Even if there are more ‘Good’ things you mention than ‘Bad’, or you go into deeper detail on what you liked about a film vs. what you hated… I’m always surprised by the rating – whether it be higher than expected or lower.

        I guess what I was trying to say by my (sarcastic) premonition of your rating is that although there were mostly good things discussed about the movie, you felt that it was worse than you let on in your ‘Bad’ section.

        I don’t really know how to explain it much better than that. But I wasn’t being serious.

    1. While writing this review I had a hard time since if you talk to much about what happens or compare it to other movies it will wreck it.

      And about the score I almost gave it a 6.5 but I stand by the 7 I gave it

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