As I'm sure you're aware, John Carpenter has a new movie out now called The Ward. It's been on VOD for a while but it's hitting select theaters this weekend. Good sense dictates that you try and check it out anyway you can.
The script, by Shawn and Michael Rasmussen, is, well...it's not so good. The not so good part mostly centers on the flabbergasting twist at the end - which isn't flabbergasting at all, save for the fact that you can't believe anyone involved thought it was a good way to go. But...it's not a deal breaker for me. Carpenter handles the resolution of the film's mystery as well as anyone could without calling for a complete rewrite.
Shaky story aside, Carpenter delivers a handful of effective jump scares, gets a strong lead performance out of Amber Heard, and wisely doesn't try to overreach with this slim material. Carpenter's prowling camerawork is in full effect, gliding through the possibly haunted corridors of the North Bend psychiatric hospital.
The Ward might not seem like much, just another underwhelming latter-day entry from Carpenter - a movie that some might say was hardly worth Carpenter getting back in the director's chair for - but I guarantee that time will be kind to it. Not so kind that it'll ever be a classic but it strikes me as the kind of movie that would've once found its audience one viewer at a time in the twilight zone of late night TV - a place where modest but efficiently told B-movies could always get a fair shake, away from heavy expectations.
I do wish that Carpenter had found a meatier project for his comeback but looking at the straight-forward chills that The Ward serves up, it's reassuring to be reminded that Carpenter's far too pragmatic to ever go off his nut like Romero, Argento, or Craven have in recent years. The Ward may not set the world on fire but it's no embarrassment either. Here's hoping that Carpenter will not keep us waiting another ten years for his next movie.
To read my full review of The Ward, go to Shock Till You Drop.