While a lot has happened during 2020 it seems that this is the year where filmmakers realised that you can make a horror film set during World War II without it turning into something schlocky. Of course earlier this year we were delivered the sensational Blood Vessel and now director Eric Bress returns to the director’s chair for the first time in sixteen year with Ghosts Of War.
To me Bress has had 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, and it makes you wonder what we have missed out on while this talented filmmaker has been locked away in the writer’s room.
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 looking for retribution behind.
The real reason why I loved Ghosts Of War is something that can’t mention here as I hate reviewers who spoil films. All I will say is that this is a decent supernatural thriller that contains a twist that nobody will see coming win a million years. It is that twist that once again reminds me why Eric Bress is such a fascinating filmmaker.
I remember that there something amazing about The Butterfly Effect the first time I watched it. It was a film that too its audience on a journey of twists and turns and you never really knew where you were going to end up. It was a good strange, the kind of strange that makes Christopher Nolan (Inception) the cinematic God that he is. That same feeling is conjured up with 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 the fact that despite the supernatural element Bress doesn’t just simply let his characters be walking clichés. Many screenwriters would have taken the easy route here and made the five soldiers a blend of each other, that isn’t Bress’s style though and instead he gives each character a personality, 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 that ends with a bang there is a lot to love about Ghosts Of War. In a lot of ways the horror elements of the film are some old school ‘ghostly’ scares but it is the interesting plot points that Bress throws into the mix that makes this film so different to what we have seen in the past. There is no doubt about it this film shows why we need to see more cinematic magic from Eric Bress over the next few years.