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John Carpenter - cinematic alchemist
on 27 April 2017
It's always great to see John Carpenter back behind the camera - though sadly there's been nothing more from him since 2010, when this film was released. This is, in many ways, a very run-of-the-mill set up with jump scares where you pretty much guess they'll be and a denouement that isn't original - or even very surprising. And yet, it's a very enjoyable and entertaining movie mainly because it's so obviously directed by a master filmmaker. The film looks great, for a start, and the editing and mise-en-scene are ample evidence of Carpenter's skill as a storyteller - even though the story's not that hot. It also shows his skill with actors - there are some very good performances from the predominantly female main cast and the much underrated Jared Harris. There's a wonderfully atmospheric score too, though not composed by Carpenter himself. Yes, "The Ward" is corny and clunky in parts but this is transcended by the skill in which it is undertaken. Mind you, I really enjoyed "Ghosts of Mars" too so make of the above what you will, though I like most of his movies, with the exception of the awful remake of "Village of the Damned" - my favourites being "Dark Star", "Assault on Precinct 13", "The Thing", "Starman" and "In The Mouth of Madness". As a huge Carpenter fan, I can only hope that the man gets to work on a new project soon, preferably with strong material and Kurt Russell starring! One can dream but, for the time being, you could do worse than give "The Ward" a watch - at the very least, it shows how a cinematic alchemist can turn very base metal into, if not gold, then certainly into something of solid entertainment value.