Overlord: Nazis, Zombies, And War!
This film isn’t anything new. It doesn’t break virgin ground and it certainly doesn’t reinvent the Nazi Zombie genre, but what it does do is kick some major ass, and it’s never once dull or boring or the least bit unfulfilling. You came to get some weird shit and you’re going to get it, albeit in as mainstream a way as possible.
It’s D-Day (or just about to be) and a group of rag-tag American soldiers are being dropped behind enemy lines. Their mission: take out a radio tower in a small French village so that D-Day can happen. They are led by the mysterious new member of the group, Ford (Wyatt Russell—Kurt’s son and damned if he doesn’t look like him in several scenes), who’s a gritty, battle-hardened vet. Outsider Boyce (Jovan Adepo, who reminds me of a young Denzel) is flying into the danger with his squad, but nobody seems to trust him. Things go bad. Their plane gets shot out of the sky and most of the group doesn’t make it to the ground alive. The remaining members find each other and run into a perky French lady named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier, who is terrific in this film) out scavenging for her family. They follow her back to her home to hole up and figure out a plan on how they’re going to attack the tower and bring it down. In the meantime, they begin to discover some sickening and bizarre things are going on in the tower, things that involve Nazi experimentations on the residents of the village. Let’s just say it’s monstrous, and it sort of involves zombies, but not how you normally view them (a throwback to Shock Waves, more than anything).
The first part of this movie mostly plays like a war film. It sits comfortably in that genre, with all the perils being thrown at our heroes coming from the natural world of armed conflict. But when things start to get strange, they escalate, and pretty soon you have an intense film full of war and horror that does not pull any punches. There’s plenty of B-movie moments in here, but none of them feel strained or superfluous. A couple of times the movie just goes for it, delving straight into the gore and the outlandishness of the situation and it does not blink or flinch. For that alone it deserves all the kudos in the world. The cast is tremendous and although the characters sometimes feel like War Movie Stock Characters 101, each actor is able to live inside their skin and breathe life into them. You really care what happens to them, especially with the three leads. The pacing is perfect; there’s always space allowed for the audience to catch its breath after a suspenseful setpiece, and to give the actors some room to do more than just run and fire guns.
In the end, you have a genre-melding movie that mixes all the parts equally and delivers on the promises of both. That’s pretty hard to do. Add to that some fine performances, some great make-up and gore and action, and you have a winner. The only slight is that it’s all kinda been done before. Other than that, if you want a slick thrillride full of monsters and Nazis and brutal action and horror, you need to trot your butt out and catch a showing.
3 Stars out of 4