Before the hot new Playboy Club tv show, Amber Heard made her mark in Drive Angry alongside Nicholas Cage and in a quirky new home video release of The Ward. In The Ward, Kristen (Heard) wakes to find herself bruised, cut, drugged and held against her will in a remote ward of a psychiatric hospital. She is disoriented and has no idea why she is there. Other patients in the ward, four equally troubled girls, offer no answers and Kristen quickly realizes that things are not as they seem – with the ghost of Alice Leigh Hudson (Jillian Kramer)terrorizing them. One-by-one the other girls begin to disappear, and as Kristen struggles to escape she uncovers a truth far more dangerous and horrifying than anyone could have imagined.
It’s typical John Carpenter mental patient shock, as the director who brought us Halloween in 1978 borrows from Shutter Island and Identity to accomplish a timid horror film that aims to tell a story rather than scare the hell out of us with knives and blades. It’s a bit of been there and done that from the great scare director. However, anyone that has ever set foot in an older mental illness facility can appreciate Carpenter’s tale of personalities, strict hospital rules and mental illness. The walls of a mental hospital can tell stories and are often ripped and aged like the ones in The Ward. It’s like Carpenter’s stories come from these walls.
Heard leads the cast as the believably “sane” Kristen, fighting with her fears and delusions. It should also be noted that Kramer is a pretty creepy ghost as she makes Hudson jump off the screen to kill Kristen’s new friends and terrorize the poor girl.
While The Ward doesn’t have the punch as Halloween or The Thing, Carpenter knows his way around a mental hospital, and with the help of Heard and Kramer, delivered a good story and a watchable movie.
The Ward is being offered in a new format as a Blu-Ray/DVD single disc with the Blu-Ray presentation on one side and DVD on the other. While the idea of a single disc is appealing for space and the environment, double-sided discs usually end up with more scratches over the years than the typical 2-disc version of the same thing. Our preview copy experienced Blu-Ray issues in our Samsung player, but raised no problems on a computer. Oddly, Universal chose to house the single disc in a DVD sized case rather than the slicker Blu-Ray one (maybe as a way to encourage DVD users to check out Blu-Ray?). It would have been better as a 2-disc set rather than a one disc flipper.