The good news for all the sceptics out there is that Ghosts Of War not only works but it happens to work brilliantly well. In fact the film not only lets horror and war coincide nicely together but also brings in strong elements of a genuinely good supernatural thriller that could possibly make it one of the most under-rated films of the years.
Directed by Eric Bress, who 16 years ago was the talk of Hollywood after the release of his cult classic The Butterfly Effect, Ghosts Of War sees five American soldiers including Chris (Brenton Thwaites – Maleficent), Eugene (Skylar Astin – Pitch Perfect) and the mysterious Tappert (Kyle Gallner – American Sniper) arrive at a French Chateau towards the end of World War II. While they see the posting as a cushy place to get some respite, they are soon shocked to learn that the chateau was the site of a Nazi atrocity that has left some ghosts behind looking for retribution.
Bress has one of the most unusual careers in Hollywood that you could imagine. He first amazed me as a filmmaker with the captivating The Butterfly Effect back in 2004 and then as a screenwriter, kick-started one of highest-grossing horror franchises ever with Final Destination. Despite the success of these films though, Bress never returned to the director’s chair – not even with his hit TV series Kyle XY. Now, Bress returns to a chair that probably should be considered his throne due to the amazing nature of Ghosts Of War, and it makes you wonder what we have missed out on while this talented filmmaker has been locked away in the writer’s room.
What makes Ghosts Of War such a brilliant film is kind of hard to discuss here without giving away spoilers… so all I will say is the film has a lot of surprises that you are best to experience yourself. The supernatural element of the film allows a twist that the audience will never see coming in a million years. It is this specific twist that will once again remind everybody why Eric Bress is such a brilliant and fascinating filmmaker.
Most readers will remember that there was something amazing about The Butterfly Effect as a film. When you watched it you just knew that it was a film that would stay with you for a long time – and it should have been a film that made Bress a household name. It was a film that took its audience on a journey full of twists and turns, and you never really knew where you nor the characters were going to end up. It was a good kind of strange, the kind of strange that makes Christopher Nolan (Inception) the cinematic icon that he is. That same feeling is conjured up in Ghosts Of War – a film that sees the suspense level continue to rise throughout before leaving the audience with a finale that they could never predict.
Also making Ghosts Of War memorable is that despite the supernatural element, Bress doesn’t let his characters become walking clichés. Many screenwriters would have taken the easy route here and would have made the five soldiers a blend of each other, but that isn’t Bress’ style. Instead, he breathes life into each character, providing a unique personality equipped with both strengths and weaknesses. That of course endears to the audience, which again raises the suspense through the roof.
With great special effects, interesting characters and a sensational plot which ends with a bang, there is a lot to love about Ghosts Of War. In a lot of ways the horror elements within the film may be old school style ‘ghostly’ scares, but it is the interesting plot Bress throws into the mix that makes Ghosts of War stand out to what we have seen in the past. Ghosts of War is the perfect example of why we need to see more cinematic magic from Eric Bress.
Ghosts of War will be released in Phuket cinemas on Dec 10. It has yet to be classified.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus