Ghosts of War follows a group of American soldiers as they make their way to take up post at a French chateau towards the end of the Second World War, and encounter much more than they bargained for in this slightly above average B movie.
Right from the start, this opens with your usual cliched group of soldiers that you’d find in any war film. Brenton Thwaites is Chris, the boss and leader, you have Skylar Astin as Eugene, the brains/intellectual, Kyle Gallner as the odd and trouble sniper Tappert, Alan Ritchson as a typical macho man and finally Theo Rossi as the filler. So far, so generic, and other than Tappert who gets a decent bit of creepy character development later on, the rest of the main group are virtually one dimensional. Which is a shame as the cast are a decent group of actors that have been let down by the poor writing. Although I did enjoy Billy Zane popping up with an intentionally cheesy blink and you’ll miss it cameo as a Nazi with a horrific German accent.
The film begins like your typical war movie; a group of soldiers working their way across the country to reach their destination. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. However, what helps lift this is a rather moving and poignant opening quote and a score that accompanies this very well. The score in this would be at home on any dramatic war film and almost seems out of place in a horror film. It gives this a feeling that it’s a lot more epic and grand than it actually turns out to be.
What really drags this film down is when the group arrive at the aforementioned chateau and begin to experience all of the supernatural going’s on. Aside from a couple of potentially creepy scenes, the jump scares are tired and predictable and the ghosts look like every other spook that’s been in a modern-day horror film recently. It reeks of a below-average, typical ghost film with some hit and miss special effects (albeit with a respectable amount of blood and gore) and had it continued on like this, it would’ve been completely forgettable. However, throughout the scenes in the chateau, there are hints that there is something deeper and more sinister going on, and it starts to pick up again when the group encounter a party of Nazi soldiers trying to enter the building.
Things start to get a little weird and confusing and then a big reveal in the last 20 minutes completely shifts this film into something you never expected. I didn’t see this particular twist coming and for me, this made this movie more than just a sub-par horror film. The reveal has been met with mixed reviews from critics and reviews alike, but I think it injects some much-needed enjoyment and intrigue – it’s just a shame we have to wait over an hour to get there. The entire twist and ending is rather disturbing and also quite moving and emotional, and the final scene, whilst one we’ve seen done many times before, did make this a satisfying and darkly entertaining end.
Ghosts of War starts off as a below-average clichéd war horror film, however, if you can get through the first hour, the ending packs a decent, enjoyable and rather surprising punch. It’s just a shame the first two acts don’t match up to the ending.
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