I missed The Ward during its theatrical release. I was busy, what can I say. I finally rented it over the weekend, and after watching it, I decided it was time to do my first movie review.

Before I start, and in the interest of full disclosure, let me state the following. I like old horror. I have a collection of classic, black and white horror movies on DVD and VHS. I had seen the original House on Haunted Hill several times before the Geoffrey Rush version came out. I think John Carpenter and Roger Corman are both genius, and that true horror is defined by Vincent Price and not Freddie Krueger.

I liked Sharktopus and thought Big Trouble in Little China was one of the best movies ever.

Yes, I may be a little weird, and an old fart – my first pet was a Tyrannosaurus Rex – deal with it.

Disclaimers out of the way, on to The Ward. I liked it. It opens with Kristen (played very well by Amber Heard) running through the woods. She arrives at a traditional white, wood frame house and promptly burns it down by lighting the curtains on fire.

Kristen is then grabbed by the police and taken to a nut house, where she is placed in a ward with four other girls. Each of these girls seemed to represent a different, but generic character type, which at the time made me a little nervous. Nurse Lundt, the ward matron, seemed stereotypical and may actually have been done in claymation. Either that or her eyes were prosthetic.

Even though I had questions, the story moved along well. It wasn’t long before I was into the film completely. I felt that the Dr. Stringer character (Jared Harris) really kept everything together and was excellent. He was so completely believable that I became totally on board with the story, no matter where it went.

The interaction of the girls in the ward was very well done. Any concerns I had about things becoming mechanical soon disappeared. My biggest worry in the beginning was the Emily character (Mamie Gummer), but everything fit together well as the story developed.

The movie then added all of the required elements. Vulnerable young women sneaking through the creepy sanatorium, being chased and killed by the mysterious and deformed monster.

I’m not going to go into details about the story itself, no spoilers. Understand, this is Haunted Hill and not Elm Street. Bottom line then: I had questions at the beginning, in the middle I wondered why some elements were introduced, as the story went along I asked myself how it would come together, and at the end smiled and said “Oh, yeah!”

As I said earlier, I liked it.

The Ward was written by the Rasmussen brothers, who I recently discovered once lived within a couple of miles me in Texas. I really liked the story, especially the way everything fit together at the end. There were a lot of little, subtle pieces that really made The Ward work for me.

The movie exceeded my expectations. It even left me with a little present at the end, when something that I hoped was about to happen actually did. If you want to find out what that is, watch the move.

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