Review - 'Overlord'
Tell me, do you hate Nazis? Do you like gory horror movies? Do you like action? If your answer to all of these basic questions is yes, then I might have the film for you. Overlord, while far from a perfect movie, is an engaging action/horror experience, draped in a period setting and backed by a healthy budget. Oh yeah, and Nazi zombies!
On D-Day, a group of soldiers seeking to dismantle a Nazi radio station find themselves neck-deep in something far more deranged and sinister than they could have imagined.
Overlord would like you to think that it’s taking risks by blending history with b-movie thrills, but it’s really not all that bold. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a group of American soldiers mow down mutated Nazi zombies? It’s kind of a no-brainer when you really think about it. Which leads me to Overlord’s most glaring flaw. The filmmakers seem to expect this outlandish (but not really) premise to do a good portion of the heavy-lifting, and while it is amusing to see Nazi zombies on a larger scale than we generally see them, it’s really not a new concept, and thus there’s none of that desired shock-value when sh*t really begins to hit the fan. With such reliance on the aesthetics of the film, the story gets less attention, resulting in a yarn that is a tad generic and predictable. I knew how this would end pretty much from the start. That said, this film knows how to have a party and it hits the ground running from the get-go, barely giving you a chance to take a breath.
The opening sequence alone makes Overlord worth the price of admission. Director Julius Avery really has an eye for bringing chaotic war-time events to stark life and he carries on these impressively propulsive action sequences throughout the duration of the film. Though I must note that everything that follows the first sequence is never quite able to recapture the same magic. I’m also astounded that this film was made on a $38 million budget, because it looks like at the very least a $60 million production.
Overlord is also competent at bringing the tension and the horror. Avery makes the astute decision to make the audience scared of regular old Nazis first before introducing the more grotesque monstrosities later on. In fact, one of the scariest sequences occurs earlier on and involves humans, not zombies. Of course, when all of the stops are eventually pulled out and the audience is treated to full-on mutant horror, the film doesn’t disappoint. Speaking of which, the make-up design and special effects in Overlord are both pretty impressive, barring one particular sequence where a man bends his head backwards that looks obviously fake.
The cast, while not extraordinary, are perfectly in-tune with the type of movie they are in. Jovan Odepo plays Private Boyce, a timid soldier who at first does not seem ready to be involved in any sort of action. Though he lacks the assertion of your typical lead, I enjoyed the sincerity of his character and thought his arc was the strongest in the film. Mathilde Ollivier plays Chloe, who happens to be one of my favorite characters. She’s a German citizen who despises the Nazis and ends up aiding the American soldiers which leads to her initiating some of the most satisfying acts of Nazi eradication in the film. Flamethrower? Check. Then there’s Wyatt Russell, who plays Cpl. Ford. He’s meant to be the tough leader of the group, and while he does sell that to some degree, I was never really rooting for his character. There’s a big moment with Cpl. Ford that is meant to resonate on an emotional level, but it never quite hits the intended mark because I just didn’t care all that much for him.
Simply put; If you like a little occult Nazi science and horror in your WWII depictions than Overlord is just the film for you.