film review : The Ward

Is The Ward, John Carpenter’s first foray into straight horror since Halloween, a triumphant return to the big screen or simply horror mediocrity?

by Adam Rosina

Since we’ve been over this before, I’ll make it quick: I love John Carpenter. You know it. I know it. God, the Devil and Siddhartha fucking Gautama know it. Easily one of the most respected, influential, re-imagined (there’s been no less than three remakes of his work, with at least two new ones in the pipeline right now) and imitated fantasists in filmmaking, In his prime (the late 70s to the early-to-mid 80s), Carpenter was a financial cash cow, though not exactly immune to critical scorn over his films‘ violent content. Sadly, the tides began to turn with the release of The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, films that were panned by critics (viciously) and moviegoers. Carpenter, undeterred, unleashed a string of films (Prince of Darkness, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness) that further discarded traditional notions of horror and took on such intellectually robust themes as social control, quantum physics, and consensus reality, all to the detriment of his box office grosses and the confidence of his financial backers. It didn’t help that the man had a habit of losing focus and letting his films get away from him, turning them into confused messes. Thought-provokingly watchable messes, but confounding enough to convince viewers to cease drinking the Kool-Aid by the late 90s. By 2001, the director had so much trouble securing funding for his films that he was forced into unofficial semi-retirement. But after some long overdue critical re-evaluation and the explosion of his cult fan base, Carpenter was again able to muster the funds necessary to mount a theatrical release. Thus we come to The Ward, Carpenter’s first foray into straight horror since Halloween. In watching it, I was possessed of an emotion no other Carpenter film had provoked in me: Boredom.

read the full review in the August/September 2011 Issue

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