By all accounts, John Carpenter has been off his game for the past, I don’t know, 20 or so years. Consequently, his hiatus during the past nine hasn’t been met with too much public outcry. Judging from the reviews of his latest film, The Ward, at the TIFF, that sentiment is unlikely to change in the near future.
Reviews of The Ward are unique in that they accuse Carpenter of being derivative of himself, which could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. His techniques harken back to his 1970’s heyday of films such as Starman, Halloween, and Escape from New York, but, like a copy of a copy, the word on the street is that The Ward just isn’t that sharp, rarely leaving convention to tell a story the plot of which has been recycled early and often.
The film begins, as many horror movies do, with a half-naked woman named Kristen (Amber Heard) running through the woods. She is eventually caught by authorities and thrown into a psychiatric ward in response to a number of fires she had set. Once institutionalized, she is haunted by the ghosts of a former patient and stumbles on to a mystery as to what became of the former patients.
Jump scares abound as Kristen negotiates the hospital, still half-naked, we pray. Much of the context sounds painfully derivative of not only Carpenter’s work, but many of the B-grade psychological thrillers that have trickled out in recent years. No US release date is set for the film, but the movie drops in Britain on January 21st. (/Film)