20th Jul2020

‘Ghosts of War’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner, Skylar Astin, Alan Ritchson, Laila Banki, Nathan Cooper, Rebecca Flinn-White, Kaloyan Hristov, Alexander Behrang Keshtkar, Shannon McKain, Yanitsa Mihailova, Matthew Reese, Shaun Toub, Billy Zane | Written and Directed by Eric Bress

There are a surprising number of horror movies set during World War II. Perhaps because it was such a horrific time for most the World, that horror directors believe it is a good back drop for the genre. This, for whatever reason, usually involves zombies but, unsurprisingly given the title, Ghosts of War centres around ghosts.

We see five American soldiers assigned to hold a French château that was formerly occupied by the Nazi high command. What seems like a relatively easy job, soon turns out anything but as a supernatural presence descends on to the soldiers.

One thing Ghosts of War does feature a lot of is gore. Perhaps because of the subject matter of war, there’s loss of limbs with blood spurting out, lots of injuries, including horrible looking burns and several violent deaths. The budget is high enough (or the make-up effects workers are good enough) that this all look as disgustingly realistic as possible.

The movie as a whole looks great too. I loved some of the locations. From the look and style of the French château and its belongings to the open war torn fields that the cinematography made look exceptional. Unfortunately the use of some cheap and dodgy-looking CGI lets the rest down.

It’s a shame then that the actual ghost part of the story isn’t very exciting for the most part. The director tries with some decent enough suspense building scenes but the ghosts themselves don’t produce any scares.

We spend plenty of time getting to know the soldiers but they aren’t too exciting either. Which is a shame because the cast are good. Played by Brenton Thwaites, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner, Sklar Astin and Alan Ritchson, they all were really enjoyable and did everything they could to make the script as interesting and emotional as possible. Billy Zane also pops up for a bit of a cameo like he seems to in many genre films these days.

The last fifteen minutes will make or break Ghosts of War for many. For me, it somehow did both. The big conclusion to it all I loved. It explained many things that happened in the movie, was pretty original and was the best ten/fifteen minutes of the movie. Providing, suspense, emotion and gore in one fanatstic mix. But then there’s an extra five minutes after that which got a bit too ridiculous. It suddenly all seems a bit rushed and any explanation gets a bit lost. You’ll end up with a host of more questions that will never have any answers.

It has been 14 years since director Eric Bress’s last movie The Butterfly Effect. I have no idea why it has been so long but this is a welcome return even if it doesn’t hit all the right notes. If you’re looking for something a bit different this week, you could do much worse than checking out Ghosts of War.

*** 3/5

Ghosts of War is out now in the UK, digitally, from Vertigo Releasing.


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