A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ghosts of War is a World War Two violent horror about five soldiers protecting a French Chateau previously occupied by Nazi leaders. It quickly becomes clear that the house is haunted, and so they must fight off both opposing Nazi soldiers and the ghosts that inhabit the building. Graphic violence features throughout, as wartime battles and set pieces play out involving guns, knives, and explosives. Several gruesome deaths are shown, inflicted variously by shooting, stabbing, burning, hanging, and drowning. There are also plenty of jump scares and ghoulish demons. These are mostly telegraphed with creepy music and ominous sound effects. Drinking is shown with meals -- but not to excess -- while multiple characters also smoke. Topless women appear in 1940s pornographic magazines, and there is some discussion between the soldiers about their desire for sex with prostitutes. There are a number of ethnic and racial slurs used in the movie. Germans are called "Jerries" and the Japanese "Japs." The soldiers also refer to Asian women's genitalia as being "sideways." There is frequent strong language including "motherf--ker" and "whore." Post-traumatic shock is a prominent theme, with the soldiers often having nightmares that picture their own deaths, before waking up startled and disorientated.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Is it any good?
With its interesting set-up -- a cross between a period war movie and a horror story -- this delivers more bumps in the night that it does genuine scares. This isn't a bad thing in itself, but it is haunted by various weaknesses. For a start, the main characters are a bunch of sub-Inglourious Basterds whose first interaction with their enemy is to fight and kill defenseless Nazi soldiers disarmed by a bomb blast. As a result, they're not a sympathetic bunch and there's little to differentiate them from one another, either.
Once inside the Chateau, its claustrophobic setting and unusual goings on do build suspense and mystery. But we're left to selected readings of various books by Skylar Astin's character, Eugene, to provide hints at what might be going on. This makes for uneven and awkward dialogue throughout, as bigger and bigger hints are dropped that all is not as it seems. It also results in Ghosts of War's twist being delivered with all the subtlety of one of its grisly murders. Solid performances and decent special effects make it watchable, but this isn't a haunted house story to write home about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ghosts of War's violence. What's the difference between the violence committed by the soldiers and by the movie's supernatural forces? How did it affect you? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How scary is the movie? Why? What scared you the most? What's the appeal of scary movies?
Discuss the World War II backdrop? How much do you know about WWII? Why were U.S. soldiers fighting in Nazi-occupied France in 1944?
Talk about the language used in the movie. The soldiers use various racial slurs throughout the movie. Discuss the impact of this type of language. How white parents can use media to raise anti-racist kids.
How does the plot twist change the rest of the movie? Were you expecting it? Would you watch the movie again despite knowing the ending?
- In theaters: July 17, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: July 17, 2020
- Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner
- Director: Eric Bress
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, disturbing and grisly images, language and brief nude images
- Last updated: August 13, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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