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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Ward aka John Carpenter's The Ward [Blu-ray]


(John Carpenter, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: FilmNation Entertainment

Video: Arc Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:28:55.413

Disc Size: 16,735,106,100 bytes

Feature Size: 16,114,612,224 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.16 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 16th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2597 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2597 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), none



• Commentary by John Carpenter and Jared Harris

'Theatrical Trailer (2:14)





Description: Acclaimed director John Carpenter makes his long awaited return to the screen with a thriller about a young woman in a 1960s mental institution who becomes terrorized by malevolent unseen forces. Kristen, a beautiful but troubled young woman, finds herself bruised, cut, drugged with laughing gas. The other patients in the ward four equally disturbed young women offer no answers, and Kristen quickly realizes things are not as they seem. The air is heavy with secrets, and at night, when the hospital is dark and foreboding, she hears strange and frightening sounds. It appears they are not alone. One-by-one, the other girls begin to disappear and Kristen must find a way out of this hellish place before she, too, becomes a victim. As she struggles to escape, she will uncover a truth far more dangerous and horrifying than anyone could have imagined.


Welcome to North Bend Psychiatric Hospital, an isolation ward for disturbed women that holds a terrifying secret. Kristen,... a beautiful but volatile young woman finds herself bruised, cut, drugged and held against her will at the sinister asylum. Trying to gain control of her memory and figure out how she got there, Kristen discovers that a savage ghostly figure roams the halls at night. One by one, the other patients begin to disappear. To survive, Kristen must discover the horrifying truth of the ward.



The Film:

Many Carpenter films are genre jambalayas, mishmashes of horror and sci-fi with the feel of westerns; the director's old-fashioned style gives even his future visions the sensation of something having been unburied from a distant past. But The Ward is a straightforward psychological spooker, about a series of murders inside a mental institution, and outside a few striking widescreen compositions, you wouldn't even know Carpenter was responsible for it. The clothes, art direction, and bizarre programming transmitted through the boob tube in the ward's common area all suggest the story takes place in the time of June Cleaver, but the frenzied camera (there's probably more movement in the film's 90 minutes than there is in the entirety of the director's oeuvre) and Vaseline-slick rustedness of the color palette gives one the feeling of hanging out inside James Wan's temporal lobe.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE

Considering John Carpenter has been off-form (Escape From LA, Vampires, Ghosts Of Mars) or absent from cinema (making a few episodes of TV show Masters Of Horror) since the ’80s, it’s a pleasure to report this small-scale, intricately constructed genre movie is a satisfying suspense-horror. It might not match the achievements of his Halloween or The Thing years (let’s face it, few horror films do), but it’s a solid, old-fashioned, spook-scare story with a lot of added value, from an outstanding titles sequence to an impressive, atmospheric score (not by Carpenter, but soundalike Mark Kilian).

Excerpt from Empire Magazine located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

While not technically robust John Carpenter's The Ward suffices with a modest presentation in 1080P.  Aside from some impressive scope shots and the intriguing title sequence the Blu-ray won't be knocking your socks off with crisp and tight detail. It is not that it is soft, or poor at all, but the single-layered transfer doesn't export a remarkable presentation.  The cinematography is inventive and there is a bit of depth but I'd say my most demonstrative comment would be that it is superior to SD. This Blu-ray scrimps a bit but I didn't notice any extravagant noise and it provides, a predictably, clean and consistent presentation.
















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2597 kbps shines the brightest in terms of the a/v transfer. We get the typical horror jumps with crisp bass-punch but restrained enough not to bomb you out of your seat. I liked the separation effects and thought this lossless audio did a decent-to occasionally-impressive job of exporting the film's more tense audio moments as well as the Mark Kilian jarring score. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Aside from a trailer the only other supplement is a commentary by John Carpenter and Jared Harris (who plays Dr. Stringer in The Ward). I am quite keen to hear the director discuss about the film but haven't had the opportunity to indulge yet. I don't want to skim it. I expect it to be informative and will report back here if I find anything 'out of the ordinary'. This is a much more desirable extra than the usual sound-byte featurettes usually found on releases such as this.



Certainly far from the director's best work but this is by no means a failure. The Ward approaches the horror dynamic extremely well and Carpenter is a master of the build. It may take a few bizarre turns but I was still very entertained. The modest Blu-ray won't be used a demo disc for your home theater but still exports a decent and, at times, chilling, presentation. I suspect that Carpenter fans and those keen on the horror genre (with a less discerning/picky attitude) will reap the most benefit from the film experience. I thought it was pretty good and gave me some edge-of-seat emotional rushes. I guess I didn't find it as mediocre as everyone else. 

Gary Tooze

August 3rd, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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