J.J. Abrams, zombies, and killin’ Nazis. Heck yeah. Overlord.
That's all, that's the review... KIDDING.
Let's talk a little more about zombies, shall we? They're a dependable horror trope that’s used quite often in movies, books, and television shows. Nazi zombies, in particular, are another widely used horror theme -- especially recently if you’ve played Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies. This isn't an ad for Call of Duty either, that's just a perfect example. See? Always dependable. I wasn’t crazy about this flick upon the first viewing of its trailer. Nothing about it really blew me out of the water. The excitement began to set in once I started hearing numerous good things about it after its premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. A lot of people were expecting it to be a sequel to the sci-fi/horror hit Cloverfield, but Abrams was quick to shut down that rumor. He made it clear that Overlord is its own thing, and after seeing it I can honestly say that this J.J. Abrams-produced Nazi zombie gore-fest is actually a ton of fun!
Directed by Julius Avery, this film opens on the eve of D-Day, just before the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy. We’re introduced to a motley crew of soldiers who, within the first five minutes of the film, must parachute out of their plane or die in a blaze of bullets and bombs. Our main character is Private Boyce, played by Jovan Adepo, who you may recognize from the Oscar-nominated film Fences. He’s caring, loving, and gentle as can be – something his fellow soldiers berate him for since he, literally, couldn’t even kill a mouse. He and four other paratroopers must then set out to accomplish their original mission -- take out a radio-jamming tower in a Nazi-occupied French village.
As they make their way through the dark and shrouded woods, they run into a young French woman named Chloe, played FANTASTICALLY by Mathilde Ollivier, who leads them into the French village where the tower is located. They hide in her house and learn from Chloe that German soldiers have been randomly taking certain townspeople into the tower and, if they somehow make it back, they’re not exactly… themselves. Case in point is Chloe’s aunt, a woman that we only hear wheezing from the other side of her partially closed bedroom door. When Boyce finally gets a peek inside her room, we quickly learn that it seems there’s something even more sinister going on with the people being taken to that tower.
As Private Boyce accidentally finds a way into the tower, we see the horrific things being conducted inside by an undeniably insane Nazi doctor. This is where the movie branches away from its WWII war story and immerses you into a full-on gruesome monster movie. The tough and tenacious Corporal Ford, played with an insane amount of heart by Wyatt Russell, discovers that the Nazi’s believe in order to have a thousand-year Reich, you need a thousand-year army, and so our soldiers have a new mission on their hands. From here on out, the movie straps you in for a wild and gory fright fest that’s executed in a fashion perfectly suited for a Bad Robot production.
In the end, this movie tosses exposition out the window in exchange for incredible effects and some solid frights. It’s successful in showing the horrors of war, while also keeping you entertained with its gruesome visuals. It's not fantastic, but it’ll satisfy that B-movie craving for some good ol’ fashioned zombie fightin’.