Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mike S. reviews John Carpenter's The Ward

Mike S, creator of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and mad blogger over at The Corner of Terror, joined Shawn and I in The Basement to catch John Carpenter's The Ward. Seeing as he hadn't posted his thoughts over at The Corner, we thought we'd give him the chance to do so here. And he did, because that's just the kind of dude he is!

Read on . . .


My good friends from The Basement have asked me to write down my thoughts on our recent viewing of John Carpenter's "The Ward", which- if you've listened to their PodCast (which you should), you'd already know the gist of my thoughts... but I'll write them down anyways just for you.

With "The Ward," John Carpenter once again shows us what a master of horror and storytelling he is.  He catches you with a scare before the opening credits, and then moves into a flowing narrative with solid characters with depth and personality.  The story unfold smoothly- slowly revealing the mystery behind the events while increasing the tension.  I think when it comes to movies with a supernatural element to them- rather than just a standard "stalkering figure" flick, John Carpenter really shows what he's capable of.

The visuals are both creepy and beautiful.  The opening credits alone were an artistic display of the macabre.  From there, he uses a combination of wide and tight shots to frame his scenes so that the atmopshere of the story is enhanced.  As with his classic, "Halloween," he doesn't use a lot of edits to go from one shot to the next.  The scene of Kristen and Emily hiding behind a screen in the men's ward is a great example.  Where many would cut between tight shots of the girls behind the screen, and tight shots of the approaching nurse's feet or face, Carpenter uses a wide angle shot to show it all.  Just a great scene filled with suspense.  I also found that many of the shots and angles brought back memories of his movie, "Halloween" as well.  These tricks of the trade worked back then... and they still work great today- a lesson many modern horror film makers should learn.

I was impressed by the cast in this movie- they were all strong performers.  I especially liked Mamie Gummer as Emily, Laura-Leigh as Zoey, and Susanna Burney as Nurse Lundt.  Amber Heard wasn't bad as Kristen, but I didn't care about her well being as much as I did with Emily and Zoey.  I also enjoyed Jillian Kramer's performance as "Monster Alice".  She threw in some nice theatrical touches that were fun- Iris's death scene is a good example, with the way she removes her glasses, then shows her what she's going to use on her... that's a monster that was enjoying her revenge.

Shawn pointed out that the movie lacked Carpenter's own music- which took away from it "feeling" like a Carpenter film.  While this is true to an extent, I have to say that the music was still good.  It was haunting and creepy- stalking your senses like the ghost in the movie.  It was especially chilling when combined with the visuals of the opening credits.

When all is said and done, John Carpenter's "The Ward" is certainnly one film I'll be adding to my horror movie collection, and will be viewed many times along with "Halloween," and "The Fog".  If I could, I would classify this movie as, "Freaking Awesome"... but until then, I'll give it a place of honour in "The Good"...

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