Directed: Julius Avery
Genre: War Horror
R 18+: High Impact Violence
Overlord is a tense action horror film, blending several classic ideas, such as the backdrop of WW2, Nazi secret laboratories and zombies, into a ferocious romp of a film. It doesn’t hold back, allowing the critical nature of their mission to push the story ever forward.
It follows a group of American paratroopers who land behind enemy lines, in an attempt to bring down communications to allow the troops to land on the beaches. But they encounter more than they bargain for when they uncover Nazi experiments.
The lead characters in the film are interesting and hold differing positions on how to achieve their end goals. These differences cause them to come into conflict on more than one occasion as they try to explain why their way is the ‘only’ way. Their differing philosophies about how to engage in warfare, treating captured enemy soldiers and whether saving civilians is an equally important task is a delight to witness amongst all the chaos. Their character growth is a nice edition to what could have been a very bland set of lead characters.
As an action horror film, Overlord is right up there with some of the best. It blends the intensity of a WW2 battlefield with Nazi Zombie super soldiers to create something of unadulterated violence.
The action is fast-paced, leaving very little time for us to catch our breath. The violence has a blend between realism and a comic book inspiration. From the very beginning, it establishes the type of violence, bright and ultra-intense which it continues to use for the rest of the film to great effect.
The horror aspect of the film relies on the experimental nature of what the Nazi scientists are trying to accomplish. It feels a little lacking at times as most of the film seems to revolve around the elements of real WW2 problems, rather than the unique nature of what has been uncovered. The horrors of WW2 seem to take precedence over the horrors of the Nazi experiments.
There is quite a bit of gore and while there is the realism of war vs the undead, it never feels over the top, but just enough to accomplish what it set out to achieve.
The evil of the Nazis are played to tremendous strengths to the point where, once the zombies start to take main stage, the evil nature of the zombies feel a little lacking. In fact the combination of the Nazi zombies feels a little underwhelming because some of the best scenes happen before anyone is turned into a zombie.
The film uses the tension of the unknown and the limited time of the mission to further play on the suspense. It builds and builds, giving us more time to enjoy the eventual revelation and discovery made by the soldiers.
Unfortunately, the film builds up to the revelation for a bit too long, and once the secret has been revealed it doesn’t give it us enough time to settle in and enjoy it before the secret is closed. The zombie-like aspect of the film feels almost like an addendum in its own premise as most of the action centres on very basic WW2 scenarios of soldiers fighting soldiers. It is a bit disappointing to see a Nazi zombie flick with bare minimum zombies.
The main characters have well laid out paths for them to take to change and grow, but sadly the same cannot be said for everyone else around them, who are clearly there to provide a few more people to help stop the Nazis.
The ending also feels like it both tried to close the door on the movie, suggesting that it was a single story and tried to keep the door open for a future film. With its uncertainty about whether it wants to tell more stories or not, it can feel a little deflating at the end.
If you’re looking for something to get your blood pumping, then Overlord is the right way to go. With slick action scenes that feel straight out of a comic book film and a clever story with interesting characters,
Overlord doesn’t stray from its path and provides an entertaining flick. It just feels more like you're watching a WW2 movie with the occasional zombie, rather than a zombie film set in WW2.
7 stars out of 10.