Review: Ghosts of War is a Thirteen Ghosts Type Call Back to Early 2000's Horror
Directed by: Eric Bress (The Butterfly Effect)
Synopsis: Five soldiers in World War II come face to face with the paranormal.
Starring: Kyle Gallner (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Brenton Thwaites (The Signal), Billy Zane (The Phantom)
Release Date: July 17th, 2020, Video On Demand
Ghost stories can quickly find their way to boredom if paced poorly. The same goes for older war films at times. When you start to feel as though the characters have a way out or aren't truly threatened it's hard for a viewer to stay entranced. One of the main issues I have with the weaker CONJURING universe films is that the ghosts often never inflict any real damage for most of their running time. Electing to instead pop up for a jump scare and disappearing, inexplicably until the plot slows down again.
How do you fix that problem? The zombie solution. You just take your scary thing and put it inside of a new thing. Like zombies in a mall (Dawn of the Dead) or zombies vs punks (Return of the Living Dead).
GHOSTS OF WAR has this in spades. Once you feel as though your walking on trotted war film ground BOOM the ghost story kicks in. Tired of slow creaking hallway floors and shadows moving in the backgrounds never really amounting to the crescendo you want in spades ala EVIL DEAD but are rather force fed in small portions? Gun fight. It's a fantastic idea and it keeps GHOSTS OF WAR entertaining throughout for the most part.
The film looks terrific and minus a few CGI blood splats the special effects far exceed your expectations. Especially when you're considering that the crew had to budget for both paranormal and war effects for this film. There are multiple entertaining action sequences that shockingly don't look cheaply made whatsoever. The paranormal aesthetic is a bit overused with the typical dead spirit look going on (think the kids in SINISTER) but there is some fun GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (Google image it) style facial extremes that are a bit fun and twisted to look at. Amidst all of the challenges GHOSTS OF WAR faced from a technical standpoint, the film almost never buckled. The cast was well placed and it was a treat to see Billy Zane in spots. Kyle Gallner's performance will go unnoticed but was dare I say Matthew Mcconaughey-esque at times. The kind of performance that hopefully a Quentin Tarantino at some point.
GHOSTS OF WAR isn't going to scare the daylights out of experienced horror movie goers but there are definitely some moments that will shake up the uninitiated. For all the lack of originality regarding the haunted house beats, the film makes up for in spades with a plot direction that definitely swings for the fences.
Despite the beating this film is taking from critics I feel like there's a lot of audience members out there that will be singing its praises. It reminds me of a film that would have come out in the GHOST SHIP or THIRTEEN GHOSTS era of the 2000's. Flawed yet twisted and entertaining. I can definitely see this is a film product of the guy who brought us the forever underrated BUTTERFLY EFFECT. 7/10