GHOSTS OF WAR (2020) Reviews and overview

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‘You can’t hide from yourself’

Ghosts of War is a 2020 American supernatural horror feature film about American soldiers encountering paranormal phantoms in a French chateau during WWII. The movie was written and directed by Eric Bress (The Butterfly Effect; screenwriter of The Final Destination; Final Destination 2).

The Miscellaneous Entertainment production stars Brenton Thwaites, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner, Alan Ritchson, Billy Zane, Shaun Toub, and Skylar Astin.


During the darkest days of World War II, five American soldiers are ordered to hold a French chateau formerly occupied by the high command of the Third Reich.

Unfortunately, the troops’ seemingly simple assignment spirals into madness when they begin experiencing inexplicable events as their reality transforms into a twisted nightmare more terrifying than anything seen on the battlefield…

[May contain spoilers] Reviews:

“The biggest issue is that it drops the ball, trips over its own feet, and smashes its face into a brick wall. Like a coked-out Stephen King, the third act throws everything in except the kitchen sink and ends up with minimal working […] Ghosts of War has a lot going for it but sadly ends up collapsing under its own weight and ruins all the goodwill that came before it.” Arrow in the Head

“It’s so blandly written and handled with the broadest and clumsiest of strokes, that there’s zero rooting interest. There are no chills or thrills to offset the mediocrity either. Ghosts of War is a series of confounding decisions, paper-thin storytelling, and frustrating recycled tropes that the actual victims of this film are the viewers.” Bloody Disgusting

” …in a world where innovation in horror can be lacking, it does deserve praise for trying to delve deeper even if the result is an exciting but clumsy finale. But that aside Ghosts of War is saved by both its performances and classic supernatural elements. Creating a solid horror movie that is only let down by a story that stumbles at the final hurdle.” Cinerama Film

“A captivating cast similarly battles back against sketchy editing room actions until only the primary plotline matters anyway. Ghosts of War may look like a haunted house yarn dripping with déjà vu from the outside. Inside, there’s so much more that makes the movie impressively entertaining.” Culture Crypt

” …the film leaves a plot hole or two along the way: things that are addressed, but provide no follow through. And then, in the last 30 minutes, Bress throws you for a loop, turning Ghosts of War into a Black Mirror episode. What could have been a pretty decent addition to the war horror genre is ruined, its twist sucking the fun out of this adults-only Haunted Mansion ride.” Daily Dead

Ghosts of War may not be great cinema or even a particularly good horror thriller, but it does offer plenty of entertainment value for the hungry horror fans with its cast and impressive production design. Both this and The Butterfly Effect deal with similar themes so fans of the writer-director’s first effort might find this equally interesting and be able to forgive the film’s obvious flaws.” The Digital Fix

“Without deploying egregious spoilers, it’s impossible to explain why this seemingly bog-standard horror movie suddenly gets fractionally more interesting 20 minutes before the end. Does that make the preceding 74 minutes of entirely predictable plot manoeuvres and jump scares more interesting? Not especially, but it does slyly pull the rug out from under nitpicky viewers who think they’ve spotted anachronistic references along the way.” The Guardian

“Eric Bress wrote and directed Ghosts of War and this movie certainly has the potential of his earlier work. It just feels like it’s coming out a good ten years too late to be impressive. I’m referring to the final part of the story here since I did love the beginning in every way.” Heaven of Horror

Ghosts of War‘s reception will more than likely be starkly divided. As a genre fan, I can look past some of its meager scares while applauding its bizarre but original plot twist, despite the sudden ending and lack of character development making such an impactful creative breakthrough feel somewhat cheapened. I suspect more casual viewers may be underwhelmed and unable to look past the film’s vanilla scares…” Killer Horror Critic

Insidious-style jump-scares – involving sudden, screeching ghouls – paper over the lack of a patient build-up or well-maintained suspense; such outlandishly rendered hauntings undermine attempts to get serious, while any hoped-for edge, given the men’s potential twitchiness and psychological damage, is conspicuously absent […] and if it goes in a daft direction then perhaps its ambition and displays of conscience should be applauded.” The List

“If you love horror movies that are filled with jump scares, Ghosts of War is for you. There is also some gore, although I have seen worse. The story overall is actually a good one. Honestly, often horror movies are lacking when it comes to plot but I was hooked into this one from the beginning, just trying desperately to guess what was happening.” Mama’s Geeky

“There are a couple of visions-of-hell moments that writer-director Eric Bress […] But there’s little here, spirits yanking people into the darkness, that we haven’t seen before and seen done better. And then the movie switches gears for a drawn-out finale full of inane, nonsensical explanations and a whole other setting. It doesn’t work, even if you invoke the name “Ambrose Bierce.” Movie Nation

” …Ghosts of War is an interesting take on the wartime ghost yarn. While its conclusion is most assuredly to divide, the journey there is definitely worth a rental. Enhanced by a talented cast and solid direction, this is an excellent late-night feature choice.” The Movie Sleuth

Ghosts of War did an amazing job of playing on the fear of the supernatural and occultism and nailed the time period aspect of World War II.  I had a blast watching and it furthered my love for period piece films. Out of all of the new films I’ve watched during this real-life horror movie we’re all living in, Ghosts of War has to be my favorite film of 2020! There’s a major twist that I don’t want to spoil but it honestly dropped my jaw.” Nightmarish Conjurings

“Too emotionally oblate to be legitimately impactful and far too well made to be considered a guilty pleasure trash fire, it seems destined to wander the gaudy wastelands of cult movie misfires. The dynamic pace, high production values and tenacious violence will find its admirers, especially among those tired of the pretentious posturing and overbearing intellectualism of the recent surge of slow-burn horror.” The People’s Movies

“Perhaps the sloppy jingoism of a Nazi horror movie shouldn’t rankle so much, but Ghosts of War delivers its simultaneous celebration and exploitation of America’s “good wars” with an unreflective earnestness that’s haunting in all the wrong ways.” Slant magazine

“Bress and his ensemble stumble here, rarely developing any real dread, infrequently even delivering the jumps their quick cut scares attempt. Ghosts of War makes an effort to say something meaningful. That message is waylaid by confused second act plotting and a third act reveal that feels far more lurid and opportunistic than it does resonant or haunting.” UK Film Review

“Too action-oriented and dependent on genre tropes for the weight of moral and political questioning it takes on, Ghosts is never again as compelling as when just soaking in eerie mystery early on. The first half-hour is so promising, this is the rare horror exercise you wish were longer, if only to let those rich atmospherics dominate longer before they’re crowded out by an excess of plot mechanics.” Variety

” …the final reveal really messes with Ghosts of War. It makes sense and fits with what we’ve seen up to that point, but still changes everything. I didn’t hate it, but I found it was something of a letdown compared to what leads up to it. Which is a pity because most of the film is on point and delivers a nice sense of dread punctuated with jump scares, occasional bursts of gore and effective ghosts.” Voices from the Balcony

“Bress takes a big gamble with the third act that felt jarring to me, but it certainly didn’t lose me. I’ll leave it at that so as to avoid spoiler territory. The supernatural forces hinted at in the title are more effective when shown in shadow or in shots that leave viewers and characters wandering what they just saw, and less so in CG-rendered jump-scare scenes. The film also offers up some gruesome, well-done practical makeup effects.” When It Was Cool

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Ghosts of War is released by Vertical Entertainment. It was available on DirecTV on June 18th 2020, then available via Virtual Cinema Screenings, On-Demand and Digital on July 17th 2020.

Cast and characters:

Brenton Thwaites … Chris – Office Uprising; Oculus
Theo Rossi … Kirk – Army of the Dead
Kyle Gallner … Tappert – The Cleansing Hour; The Cleanse; A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010; Jennifer’s Body; The Haunting in Connecticut
Skylar Astin … Eugene
Alan Ritchson … Butchie
Billy Zane … Actor
Shaun Toub … Mr Helwig
Matthew Reese … Sergeant Elks
Nathan Cooper … Private #1
Shannon McKain … Lieutenant Morgan
Alexander Behrang Keshtkar … Leader
Kaloyan Hristov … Helwig Boy
Laila Banki … Mrs Helwig
Yanitsa Mihailova … Christina

Filming locations:


Technical details:

94 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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