Overlord – Film Review by Fran Winston
Director: Julius Avery
Stars: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier
In cinemas November 7th
Producer J.J. Abrams (who also conceived this story with the screenwriter Billy Ray) is a big fan of mixing genres, as anyone who has seen the Cloverfield movies will know and this is no exception and billed as a “war horror”. War on its own tends to be horrific enough but here there is an added twist in the tale. Set on the eve of D-Day during World War II this sees a group of American soldiers parachute in behind enemy lines in order to destroy a Nazi radio control tower. However, when they gain access to the tower they realise that far greater horrors lurk within as they are experimenting on corpses trying to create an army of super soldiers to fulfil the legacy of their promised 1,000 year Reich.
In case you’re not familiar with how horror works, experimenting on corpses usually results in zombie like creatures and this is no exception. Unfortunately, this film can’t seem to decide if it wants to focus on the war or the horror and as a result feels a bit confused at times. They spend a long time setting up the soldier’s mission – so much so that unless you know there’s a horror element you could be forgiven for thinking it was just another WWII movie. When the “horror” does kick in its predictable and handled in a clunky fashion.
In terms of tone this reminded me very much of Iron Sky. If you haven’t seen this it’s a brilliantly bonkers so bad it’s good movie in which the Nazi’s have been hiding out on the moon for 70 years before regrouping and trying to conquer the world again. However, while that movie had its tongue firmly in its cheek, this wears its B-movie credentials with pride and takes itself very seriously.
The actors all throw themselves into it despite being written as stereotypes with Asbæk in particular going full on panto villain as an evil Nazi (well, more evil than the usual Nazi – you know what I mean) and Russell channelling his inner John Wayne meets Rambo. Even the token female Ollivier gamely plays along despite her character being clichéd. And make no mistake she is token. She stands out more than Donald Trump at a feminist rally and even using her to move the plot along at points doesn’t detract from this fact.
There are some brilliantly gorey scenes that should satiate people who like their horror bloody. And some extremely brutal fight scenes for those who are that way inclined and at times this is clever. But as a big screen offering it isn’t a thrillfest and there aren’t enough scares to make you jump out of your seat.
If this was on Netflix it would make perfect rainy Sunday afternoon fare. And it is entertaining enough but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential or promise. Not a must see but satisfying enough if you just want some unchallenging escapism.