I have, as we’ve discussed before, a love/hate relationship with horror movies. I love slasher flicks, but I hate supernatural horror, which is why I was disappointed that Ghosts of War was supernatural horror. This movie has caused me to flip flop on how to rate a movie more than any other movie I’ve reviewed to date. Ultimately, I went with a 2.5-star review, but part of me wanted to give this 1-star while the other part of me wanted to give it 4-stars. It’s an interesting movie that makes a lot of poor choices. Let’s see if we can’t break it down without spoiling the movie for anyone.
Let’s start with the big thing… this might be the most aptly named movie in history. You know exactly what you’re getting into and it’s not something that I’m particularly fond of. Even so, I still dove head first into the film because one of the stars is Theo Rossi. I still believe that Sons of Anarchy was the best TV series the world has ever seen and all of the stars of that show have a special place in my heart. I was also excited to see that Skylar Astin was in the film. I’m a fan of the Pitch Perfect series and my wife and I have been loving his performance in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. I think, however, that the standout star of the film was Kyle Gallner… he was definitely one of the most interesting people on screen throughout the film.
The film follows 5 soldiers who are tasked with defending a mansion during World War II. We meet them while they are marching to the location to relieve the soldiers currently holding it and to wait for their eventual relief. While the soldiers are excited for a little R&R while they relax in the mansion, things quickly take a spooky turn as they learn the mansion is haunted and understand why the previous soldiers were in such a hurry to leave the place.
The film is filled with phantom footsteps, tapping on pipes, ghosts, and a score that creates constant tension. Unfortunately, the movie really can’t decide what it is. Is it a statement on the horrors of war, is it a horror movie, is it a war flick? I actually think it belongs in a split genre of horror/something. I don’t want to spoil it by listing that second genre because the film does have a bit of a twist that is foreshadowed if you pay enough attention.
At the end of the day, the performers all did a great job and the movie had a lot of potential. The horror element could have been completely removed (or toned down to create more of a thriller) and the movie would have been much better. Instead, jump scares were the order of the day and I feel like that’s a weak way to introduce horror elements to a film. The film was so close to being great but that was a big negative for me. I think the type of people who enjoy movies filled with jump scares will dislike the rest of the film and the message it brings, which I think means the movie misses its mark. It came so close to reaching greatness, and fell sort. I’d love to see the film re-cut to abandon the jump scares and become more of a thriller. I think that would really help the film find a stronger following.
Ghosts of War is available on Demand and Digital July 17.
Ghosts of War
Movie title: Ghosts of War
Movie description: Five battle-hardened American soldiers are assigned to hold a French Chateau near the end of World War II. Formerly occupied by the Nazi high command, this unexpected respite quickly descends into madness when they encounter a supernatural enemy far more terrifying than anything seen on the battlefield.
Date published: 2020-07-17
Director(s): Eric Bress
Actor(s): Brenton Thwaites, Alan Ritchson, Skylar Astin, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner, Billy Zane, Shaun Toub
Genre: Horror, War
Jump Scare Usage