DVD: The Ward

Photo: rogersvideo.ca

Starring Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer and Danielle Panabaker. Directed by John Carpenter. 88 minutes. 14A

When John Carpenter attaches his name to a horror film, I want to see it. When John Carpenter directs his first horror film in 10 years, I want to see it even more.

It was such a struggle to see this film. It premiered at TIFF last year, but I missed it. Then it was rumoured to be released in theatres in Toronto a while back but kept getting postponed until it finally dropped off the map. Then after a long wait, it has finally been released on DVD. And it wasn’t even worth the countdown.

The Ward follows the story of Kristen (Amber Heard), who finds herself in a psychiatric ward. She has no idea why and even more perplexing to her is the reason she set fire to an old farmhouse days earlier. While she continues to struggle with her memory, she begins to learn that there’s someone else in the ward along with her and the other four young female patients. And as the others begin to die one by one, Kristen digs deeper into the mystery.

The biggest disappointment of this film is that a director who is known for being so innovative in horror could take on such a cliché, overdone project. This film is so predictable. You’ll almost feel as if you saw this same film a few years ago but forgot about it over time. Actually, you did. It was played by a different cast, but you did see this story before. Many times. And then it long over-stayed its welcome. And then an iconic horror film director begged it to stay a little longer.

Despite a crappy story, the cast was interesting. In less than 10 years, Amber Heard’s film career has rocketed. From small roles and indie films, she’s soon to be in The Rum Diary alongside Johnny Depp, and takes a lead role in fall’s new TV pilot The Playboy Club. Danielle Panabaker, playing ward resident Sarah, is also making herself out to be the horror it-girl, her resume already featuring remakes of iconic horrors like Friday the 13th and The Crazies (neither of which, IMO, actually sucked).

Understandably, its difficult for any director to match the success of the height of his career, let alone John Carpenter, whose Halloween and subsequent millions of sequels are permanently etched in the history of horror. But we have definitely come to expect more from him than a carbon copy of an idea that others have more than worn out. C

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