REview: Ghosts Of War (2020) | Complexity For Complexity’s Sake Never Works

I enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense immensely.

The point being, when every other director – including Shyamalan himself – seemed to think that a movie isn’t quite complete without some Twilight Zone-esque twist that they apparently think adds greater significance to everything that’s came before it.

And when it works, it’s pretty interesting though the problem is that more often that not it not only doesn’t but feels tacked on and potentially undermines everything that came before it.

Which isn’t to say that Shyamalan invented twist endings, though few directors in recent memory have built an entire career out of it.

Though my greatest problem with such things is that they typically sacrifice effective storytelling for unneeded complexity.

In a nutshell, that’s my greatest complaint with Ghosts Of War. The initial story – a group of American soldiers during World War II in France are ordered to replace another who’ve been ordered to protect a mansion that they learn is haunted – is a simple and if done well, effective idea.

Instead Eric Bress, who wrote as well as directed, complicates things in the third act in a way that – while it doesn’t necessarily undermine everything that came before (and in fact knowing the twist ending makes certain things that happen earlier in the movie a bit clearer) it makes it significantly less interesting.

It’s worth mentioning that Bress also co-wrote and co-directed The Butterfly Effect (2004) so he’s not unfamiliar with Twilight Zone-esque storytelling though I get feeling that maybe if someone had co-written Ghosts Of War then maybe it would have been more effective than it actually is.

Though that’s not to say that the movie is bad more than disappointing because with a little minor restructuring it could have been pretty remarkable.

Ghosts Of War is currently streaming on Netflix.

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