Overlord mixes body horror and action together to create something different


When the news about the film Overlord produced by J.J. Abrams was released on the internet, the floodgates were opened and people began to theorize that the film would be part of the Cloverfield franchise. This caught my attention, and I was immediately intrigued, as I am a fan of the Cloverfield movies. As it turns out, Overlord was not a Cloverfield movie, but it was just as interesting as one.

Overlord comes from the rising Australian director Julius Avery. The film opens with American paratroopers in planes being sent on a mission to destroy a German radio tower in a church on the eve of D-Day. Suddenly, bullets rip through the planes, and the flaming masses of metal fall from the sky. The remaining paratroopers are left with the job of destroying the radio tower and must also figure out what to do about the sinister experiments that are being conducted beneath the church that could possibly involve zombies.

During the first act, Overlord is very obviously a war film, and the brutality of war is not sheltered from viewers because no one is safe in the film. There is a scene of casual conversation between soldiers as they walk through a clearing, but that is quickly interrupted by a sequence of unpredictable and startling violence. In another scene, viewers are left to think about how the soldiers should fight against the Nazis without stooping down to their level and resorting to torture, a dark thing to contemplate.

When a film revolves around the idea of survival, characters are vital to the story. Although character development and the screenplay were clearly a weak aspect of the film, the acting and directing seemed to overcome this flaw. Actors including but not limited to Wyatt Russell and Jovan Adepo bring life to characters that would usually be categorized as cliché. The peaceful, everyday civilian thrust into war and the fierce, hardened corporal are characters that are familiar to us; but Adepo’s panic and Russell’s intensity allow us to become invested in characters that could be rather boring.

With an overuse of CGI in many movies today, it was quite refreshing to see some horrifying and satisfying practical effects. It is clear that an enormous amount of effort was put into making certain scenes in the film as gory and unsettling as possible. Some actors spent five hours a day getting prosthetics applied. Seeing these impressive achievements was worth the ticket price alone.

Other than an impressive opening sequence, something seemed to be missing from the cinematography in Overlord. In a movie that is already quite over the top, I was hoping for a variety of unique shots. During scenes beneath the church in the Nazi laboratories, there are numerous disturbing contraptions and dark corners. Seeing all of this left me feeling disappointed because it felt like something had been wasted. If more areas were explored and shot in particular ways, the cinematography could’ve added to the tense and mysterious surroundings beneath the church.

Even though Overlord is far from a perfect movie and is quite straightforward, it somehow finds a way to pull through in the end. When blood erupts from the screen, reanimated bodies twist wildly, and every living breath taken by the characters could be their last; Overlord delivers. However, it is important to take into account that the plot, characters, and a few other aspects of the film that fall flat at times. Overlord may not be for everyone, but it will certainly be enjoyable for those who can take the film as it is.