Horror fans rarely find a movie that manages to hit the sweet spot between blood-curdling imagery, entertaining dialogue and adrenaline-pumping excitement. Overlord is a refreshingly enjoyable, Nazi-punching good old time with the extra dose of disturbing frights that every masochistic thrill-seeker craves.
The JJ Abrams-produced chiller is essentially a love-baby between Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and the Wolfenstein video game series. In fact, the arc of the film is a lot like Tarantino’s WWII hit: a hardened but beautiful French woman (Mathilde Ollivier), who has held a grudge against German troops since the brutal murder of her family, ultimately helps American soldiers save the day.
Nonetheless, the feature is unlike many other World War II movies, although it borrows all of the best elements from the genre. The movie opens with a tense, mid-battle aeroplane scene that sees our protagonists struggling to survive being shot down off the coast of France on D-Day. From the very first moment, the outstanding graphics and cinematography successfully instil a chilling sense of dread as you watch the blazing plane deafeningly screech across the night sky.
In a suspenseful segment that spans all the way from the air, to water, and finally to land, Private Boyce (Jojan Adepo) crashes into the sea and begins freeing himself from the grasp of his parachute in a suffocating underwater scene. He crawls onto the beach, and despite his shellshock, picks up the first gun he sees. Immediately, the first-person-shooter gamers in the audience can feel that instinct kick right in as the film pulls you into instant survival mode.
After seeing one of the soldiers in his troupe heartlessly gunned down by a group of SS soldiers from behind bushes, naïve do-gooder Boyce instinctively begins to get up and retaliate – until his division leader Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) stops him. The two eventually reunite with a number of other soldiers who survived the landing, and thus begins their journey into the dark disturbia that is Nazi-occupied France.
With a typical, albeit incredibly well-done, war-movie intro, the picture finds its stride with the addition of an element of fantasy and horror. It is revealed that the village where the troupe was assigned to carry out their mission is being plagued by the experiments of a sick and twisted Nazi doctor. The mad scientist creates a serum that turns the dead into deformed, super-human soldiers since “a thousand-year Reich, after all, needs thousand-year soldiers.” As villagers are dragged into the dreaded church-turned-laboratory, what comes out is truly the stuff of nightmares.
Despite the occasional cliché (the heroic American is too good-hearted to kill anyone point-blank, even when it’s a predatory, rapist Nazi), the film manages to give viewers a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end. Overlord packs the punch of a thriller whilst maintaining an enjoyable and sometimes comedic cinematic experience.
Overlord is released nationwide on 7th November 2018.
Watch the trailer for Overlord here: