Ghosts of War

What started as a promising if standard haunted house story goes way off the rails and becomes one of the craziest and dumbest movies I’ve seen. If I had been in a different mood I might have loved it, but the way I saw it, it was a struggle to finish.

A troop of five American soldiers during WWII are all carrying heavy trauma with them as they approach their assignment; staying in and holding a chateau in the French countryside until reinforcements arrive.

The movie is deeply misguided. It thinks it’s telling a deep story about trauma and PTSD when it’s really just mining that trauma fro cheap thrills and jump scares. It opens with a quote from a soldier about the horrors of war. Then we meet our quintet of soldiers lead by Chris, played by Brenton Thwaites. He is clearly suffering from PTSD as he sees a shadowy figure in the woods and nearly opens fire on it until he realizes it isn’t there. Cue jump scare.

The whole troop has issues especially Tappert, played by Kyle Gallner. He has deep set eyes that always look haunted and traumatized. It’s a pretty effective performance in an otherwise bland movie.

Once they arrive at the chateau, things begin going bump in the night almost immediately with strange noises and haunting voices. This is the most effective part of the film. I almost found myself enjoying it. The soldiers are very capable people. These aren’t horny teens getting drunk and high. These are soldiers who deal with the horrors they’re facing with great efficacy. They are smart and strong leads that are simply out of their depth. They don’t make the usual horror movie hero mistakes.

The trouble is the movie decides to pull the rug out from under the audience. It decides to get clever and offer not one, not two, but every twist they can possibly throw onto the screen. It gets monotonous as every ten minutes or so the reality of the characters changes with a sudden reveal. Nothing is real! Maybe we’re the ghosts! Maybe the ghosts are after us! Maybe we’re all insane! Maybe I’m crazy and everyone else is sane! Maybe, maybe, maybe. Then when it is finally revealed what is going on, it’s such a dumb let down that I just decided to ignore it and countdown until the credits finally roll.

This movie isn’t as deep as it thinks it is. It isn’t as scary as it wants to be. It isn’t as entertaining as it should be.

I said in a recent review that I like jump scares when done well. I hold to that, but this movie almost made me regret ever saying that. This movie is so full of jump scares that are so obvious and telegraphed that it is almost impossible to be surprised by anything that happens. The constant barrage of jumps along with the endless plot twists just left me feeling worn out and weary of the whole thing.

It’s streaming on Netflix, but you can skip it. Not my cup of tea. D

Spoiler territory…

So the soldiers are in a French chateau where the aristocratic family who owned it were murdered in the house by Nazis. Their spirits haunt the house with a malevolent force. However, one of the troop is killed in a Nazi attack. Before he dies he tells them all that it isn’t real. None of it is real and they need to remember. They begin questioning their reality.

Then Chris begins to suspect that his troops are lying to him. That maybe they’re all crazy and trying to trick him to his own demise. Then they are driven out of the house by the spirits and leave. They begin to wander the same fields in circles always coming back to the same spots and seeing the same people. Are they all ghosts trapped in purgatory?

Then they return to the house and begin to study up on the family. They weren’t French. They were Afghan. They laid an evil curse on the troops for failing to save them. The more they uncover about the family, the more they know they need to atone for their sins during the war. They find the bodies of the family and bury them.

But that only makes them stronger! The ghosts attack the soldiers when suddenly, Chris is pulled out. He is in a futuristic lab. It turns out the whole things was just a simulation designed to help soldiers traumatized by war deal with their grief. Okay…

But Chris insists that something is wrong with the program. The ghosts fo the real family they failed to save in Afghanistan were haunting the computer program! The real ghosts were haunting a computer program to get at the soldiers. He insists on being sent back into the simulation to save his friends from the spirits. He re-enters the simulation and starts over at the beginning of the movie.

Was that dumb or what? Who thought this was a good plot? I thought it was so dumb. They threw literally every plot twist they could think of at it, and it still sucked.

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