It’s nice to see that Carpenter’s still a great filmmaker after all those years of inactivity where he wasn’t really making anything, which is why it’s such a shame that he doesn’t hold much interest in making new films anymore. He could very easily have another Big Trouble in Little China or The Thing hidden in him. Hell, I’d settle for some kind of Masters of Horror revival if he only was up for it.
But anyway. The Ward is a very average as horror movies go. But I mean that in the nicest possible way. It’s not trying to reinvent the wheel, rather it attempts to give you a very traditional, even a bit old school horror motion picture. And it really does succeed in doing that. It is very well made from a technical POV. It’s well structured and everything about it is very reminiscent of older, more refined horror flicks of the past, where you counted on the story and mood building to do much of the heavy lifting when creating the spooky atmosphere around the story. In essence it represents exactly what horror should be, a good story with scary elements, rather than making cheap jump scares and pointless murder be the driving force of the picture. Carpenter uses just about every tool his toolbox to make the movie engaging and it’s admirable how well everything flows despite the story being a bit generic.
For you see, the only aspect where the movie falls a bit short is the writing.The scrip is pretty decent with a neat central premise, but it could have used some polishing to make it more engrossing as a whole. Now it’s entirely okay, but it never manages to properly captivate you. I enjoyed the fact the story was set in the 60s, it gave this strange archaic and off the kilter vibe to the hospital where the movie takes place. It also for rxample allowed the use of electric shock therapy, which has always been very nightmarish and scary tool when used for dramatic purposes. It really is just missing that one big mindblowing element that would have made the movie great instead of good. The big twist works considerably well, but doesn’t quite have the oomph to elevate the story to a higher level. Still, in the swamp of badly made snooze fests that is the modern state of horror films, this is a small, unpolished gem in the rough.