Overlord (2018)
Overlord (2018)

Genre: Action, Horror, and War Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.

Release Date: November 9th, 2018 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Julius Avery Actors: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek, John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Gianny Taufer, Dominic Applewhite

 


 

I

n June of 1944, a U.S. Airborne division is assigned the task of destroying a radio tower located inside a church in a Nazi-occupied French village. When their plane takes heavy fire and the paratroopers are forced to make a hasty exit, only Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) and Privates Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Tibbet (John Magaro), Chase (Iain De Caestecker), and Dawson (Jacob Anderson) regroup on the ground. En route to their small town target, the survivors encounter local resident Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who agrees to hide the Americans in her house as they plan their attack.

When ruthless Nazi officer Wafner (Pilou Asbaek) attempts to assault Chloe during an inspection of the premises, Boyce intervenes, forcing the group to take the German prisoner. With their timeline accelerated and no reinforcements on the way, the soldiers must work quickly to infiltrate the church and complete their objective. But an even more horrifying discovery awaits the intrepid allies as they descend beneath the heavily fortified radio tower.

The opening title sequence is reminiscent of classic war films, providing a blithe throwback that drastically contrasts the graphic nature of the violence to come. Interrupting the typical chatter of camaraderie or disgruntled fuming is a sensational initial action scene, full of explosions and disorientation, involving a viewpoint of the D-Day invasion rarely seen on the big screen. Mirroring “Saving Private Ryan,” complete with the cutting in and out of sound effects and other techniques of demonstrating utter confusion, “Overlord” boasts superbly cinematic chaos, transitioning from airborne endeavors to a hectic landing and covert infiltration. Curiously, this cold open could have been in a straight war movie – one without the complications of sci-fi horror.

“Some questions don’t have good answers.” As it turns out, “Overlord” digresses into a zombie film (more along the lines of “Re-Animator” than “Night of the Living Dead”), featuring plenty of brutality and bloodiness. And there are very few moments of calm, considering that even the scattered seconds of chitchat are disrupted by whizzing bullets, landmines, mutilated corpses, and other jump scares; war itself is quite horrifying, even without abominable Nazi experiments. Brief foreshadowing warns of the looming zombie thrills, but a significant portion of the setup is steeped in traditional shootouts, nerve-wracking evasion attempts, suspenseful reconnaissance, and wartime atrocities – such as the ease with which ethical considerations are abandoned.

The sets are outstanding, as is the music (keeping up the nervousness of spontaneous confrontations), along with a cast of mostly unknowns who manage to be admirably convincing despite a premise that soon involves the occult. The Nazis already generate dependable villains, so it almost feels unnecessary for mutant monstrosities to provide further antagonists. Nevertheless, there’s entertainment to be found in the undead mayhem, even if it could have benefitted from slightly more comic relief. The seriousness is predominantly relentless.

As the film progresses, it becomes more obvious that there are two distinct stories at work. The realism, heroism, and general fervor of the war elements lend to an effective actioner (as if “The Dirty Half-Dozen”), while the heavy-hitting zombie gore furnishes amusing special effects and violence-based shocks. But the hybridization of two disparate genres tends to diminish the quality of both; neither one receives the attention necessary to truly excel. And the finale occasionally resembles a superhero movie, what with all the overly destructive dueling. But “Overlord” is still a lot of fun, especially when the division of good and evil are so clearly defined, allowing for unambiguous, frenzied battles of righteousness.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10