Ghosts of War Movie Review
Written by Shane D. Keene
Released by Vertical Entertainment
Written and directed by Eric Bress
2020, 95 minutes, Rated R
Released on July 17th, 2020
Brenton Thwaites as Chris
Theo Rossi as Kirk
Kyle Gallner as Tappert
Skylar Astin as Eugene
Alan Ritchson as Butchie
I went into Director Eric Bress’s new film, Ghosts of War, with pretty high expectations. I love a good war/horror movie mashup when it’s done well, which is rare, but there are few gems to be found. Films like Overlord and Dead Snow do a good job of delivering solid, scary entertainment with war as a backdrop; there are a couple of others, but they are few and far between. So, I grabbed this one at the first opportunity and hoped I’d love it. And you know what? I didn’t hate it. It kind of took me a minute to come to that conclusion because of a problem my funny bone couldn’t get around – I’ll explain – but I finally did. So, read on and let me tell you some great things about it and what made me love it upon assessment.
The two things that most often detract from, or outright destroy, these types of films are shoddy storytelling, and/or unforgivably bad acting. Most of the time you get a whole lot of blood and guts and gore, oh my, but they never get around to justifying it with the plot. They rely on action and practical effects to carry the day and it just doesn’t get me there. This one, I’m delighted to tell you, breaks that sorry mold. The story and characterizations give you something to really sink your incisors into. In WWII, five American soldiers, veterans of hardcore brutal warfare, are holding a German outpost toward the tail end of the war, waiting for their backup. While they are waiting, they’re beset by vengeful spirits. Terrifying ones that make the ghosts of The Conjuring seem like pizza delivery drivers by comparison. It is a fast, fun, brutal bloodfest, chock full of gore and comes complete with an insane battle scene between Americans, Nazis, and ghosts.
Then there are the five actors, some, like Theo Rossi (Shades, Luke Cage), are immediately recognizable, others, not so much, but still bring solid performances. The two most remarkable, though, are Rossi and Kyle Gallner. Rossi for a few reasons, but mostly because he’s really good at convincing you he’s scared shitless. But when the action is waning, he also brings that wiseass air of aloof confidence that he’s known for. As acting jobs go, his and Gallner’s are both B-movie gold, managing to show real emotion and quirky personality traits that make them appealing and memorable. Every one of them play their roles well and deliver solid story-driving performances.
Now, the fun stuff. Remember those old Scooby-Doo cartoons? Well, there are a few scenes in Ghosts of War that would do Scooby and the gang proud. And once I flash-burned that idea into my head, I had difficulty not laughing at a lot of the movie that I probably wouldn’t normally find humorous. But it didn’t make me hate the film, and although unintentional, in a way it just makes it more fun. The film made me laugh, terrified the hell out of me in spots, and is gloriously bloody and packed with wall-to-wall brutality. All the sorts of things that draw me to these movies in the first place.
So, rest assured, the Mystery Machine never makes an appearance, but the camera work, acting, directing, and lighting all stellar. And best of all, it’s a damn good story with an almost not nonsensical plot to it, and it comes bearing all the traits of a good time. Not great, but worth your time.
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