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 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 behind looking for retribution.
The real reason why I loved Ghosts Of War is something that can’t be mentioned here as I loathe reviews with spoilers and believe these kind of surprises are something that you just have to witness for yourself. All I will say is that this film is a decent supernatural thriller, containing a twist that nobody will see coming in a million years. It is this specific twist that once again reminds me why Eric Bress is such a brilliant and fascinating filmmaker.
I remember that there was something amazing about The Butterfly Effect the first time I watched it. 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 God 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 is now available on Digital on Demand.