It’s always interesting when a filmmaker takes an extra-long period of time of to return to the director’s chair, and for Eric Bress, sixteen years between this film and The Butterfly Effect  which was a sci-fi thriller, this time around it’s a gothic ghost story set during World War II (well 95% of it is, more on that later); he also wrote the screenplay earning him distribution from Vertical Entertainment. When it comes the subject of horror and war the words are the same, but in cinema there’s a subgenre of war-horror flicks, most know a few Solider of War , Overlord , Outpost  and Frankenstein’s Army , there’s likely thirty or more films on this subject, each of them displaying horrific acts. It is equally compelling that the storyline uses ghosts, rather than zombies, however these phantoms do follow the same supernatural powerful angered creations with sunken eyes and stretched oblong mouths.
No movie can ever translate the real horror of war itself, it is without any doubt pure hell, the atrocities committed are often too much, herein the story shows American soldiers well into the thick of battle in France; combating evil of the enemy and within themselves as one is shown removing gold teeth from Nazi officers, only to do good later in the film. As a five-man unit led by Chris (Brenton Thwaites (Office Uprising )) has orders to relieve others at an allied outpost, they meet escaped holocaust victims, which is at a chateau; upon their arrival the interaction seems secretive and suspiciously they leave in a hurry. At first, they discover a fully stocked kitchen, and plenty of booze, all the luxuries including horrific ghosts, who begin plaguing them with water tortures in a bathtub though appears if German soldiers and Nazi high command are doing it to them. Along the way the men Kirk (Theo Rossi), Tappert (Kyle Gallner), Eugene (Skylar Astin), and Butchie (Alan Ritchson), encounter ghostly Morse code tapping, phantom hangings, occult symbols and of course the horror cliché ghoul ashen faces. They decide at one point to leave the nightmarish place, disobeying orders and only find themselves caught in a loop that brings them right back to the mansion regardless of the past; it made me think of The Legacy  because the same happens in that film too. A few other things do occur, but revealing them shall destroy the illusion in the film, needless to say there’s a very mismatched ending which stars Billy Zane (Dead Calm ) as Dr. Engel.
Sadly, there’s a few errors in film let’s start with a glaring one, and the old philosophical debate of which came first the chicken or egg can and does work herein. There’s a fantastic location (even though it’s primary all set construction elsewhere) the actual building from the outside is used, in the film it is set in France during WWII, the roof line is that similar to architecture of that country for mansions, however looking at the movie poster there’s a perfect example of a continuity mistake – they’re different. Therefore, which one is the mistake, one is done first and allows to extend it further, the movie was filmed on location in Bulgaria, and the mansion is base from Vrana Place. The next problem, deals with both the costume and set dressage departments, there is so much evidence and history on this era it thoroughly unbelievable in learning what paratroopers uniforms looked like, vehicles used, and weapons deployed, and while the overall items might not mean much to the average viewers; reviewers whom spot details as well as History Buffs find it annoyance. The excellent plus in the crew department comes from employing cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore, who has worked on both horror and war-themed movies, the scenes involving the sniper were spot-on, referencing his duties on Sniper: Reloaded , and as for the combination of both genres that’s S.S. Doomtrooper , a television movie. Of course, a few editing issues exist and occasionally we lose track of where all the soldiers find themselves presented during the movie, unless it’s intentional to layer a mystery. Then Tappert states he loves scary movies and notes the flicks Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy  and I Was a Teenage Werewolf , first neither existed during the time frame suggested during the film, and neither is a scary movie even by their mid-50s date. A slight follow-up on this aspect though, by the end of the film we learned of a larger sci-fi development but again these movies are thoroughly inappropriate to place under the heading of scary and they don’t fit the correct time era – oops almost gave it away.
Ghosts of War works as a spooky tale with a mystery running through it, that allows to test its confines within the house and the atrocities committed during wartime. The nightmare scenarios plague both sides, the German and American soldiers, and separately the Nazis get every deservedly sinister action towards them, in life and repeatedly in hell. However the last seven to ten minutes ruins everything that the film generated overcoming all the flaws and continuity mistakes, it frustrates a viewer, who lost a nice ghostly horror tale.
TAGLINE: The Enemy Isn’t Out There. It’s In Here.
IMDb Rating: 5.4/10
Baron’s rating: 5.0/10