Some movies demand to be seen. Overlord is one of them. This action-adventure-horror-thriller will throw you back in your seat with its unhinged intensity and trust me when I say that cinema doesn’t get more gnarly than this.
Set on the eve of D-Day, June 4, 1944, a group of American Paratroopers drops into France with the intention of destroying a radio control tower in the base of an isolated French village. What they instead find is a horrific underground lab where the German High Command are performing all manner of sinister experiments. With the clock ticking and diabolical horrors being unleashed upon them these GI’s will have to lock, load and open up with some serious led to get the job done.
Right off the bat Overlord is an assault on your senses and completely flips the script on the horror genre. When you think you’re gonna turn right, Overlord zags left and these jump scares will really get you going. It’s like an escape room horror ride where the unexpected rules at every turn and it completely captures you off guard.
As an audience member it’s rare to find a horror film that engages you with more than just mere thrills. Well I’m pleased to say Overlord is that film. Producer J.J. Abrams has a knack for picking winners and he finds a grand new visionary in the form of Julius Avery (Son of A Gun). Avery, along with noted screenwriter Billy Ray, craft a film that not only scares the living hell out of you thanks to its twisted terror moments, but will also amp you up with its explosive action scenes that impact the screen with the fury of a Thompson Sub Machine Gun on full automatic.
Avery and Ray really get the narrative right here and the entire film keeps you guessing from beginning to end. The creep factor is also high here and the film’s emphasis on detail, with its period correct costuming and weaponry, along with the unholy setting of a church gone wrong and the dark secret that it holds within its catacombs keeps you ingrained in the action.
I also have to give a shout out to the cinematography of Laurie Rose and Fabian Wagner who use a mix of unique steady cam work, intense close-ups and one hell of an epic tracking shot to throw you head first into the action. This approach to capturing the film not only amplifies the jump scares, but really leads to some in-your-face action moments.
The cast also turn out a terrific performance here and young headliner Jovan Adepo as Pvt. Boyce, an untested young paratrooper who clearly doesn’t belong in this war makes for an interesting focal point for the film. As a somewhat pacifist character Pvt. Boyce is our entry point and while you at first might think of him as a bit of a wuss he eventually grows into a gun-ho hero whose defined moral compass and strong desire to preserve human life and do what is right make him a very worthy hero. Based on his performance as well I can say that I’m really excited to see how Adepo’s career progresses and I think he’s destined for a very bright future.
Wyatt Russell also steps up to the plate in Overlord as well. He plays Cpl. Ford, a tough as nails veteran who’s survived one hellish ride through Italy and now finds himself bound for Normandy, France. As the film’s most badass character Ford is a real thrill to watch, and his unwavering focus on completing his mission and stoic personality is a direct throwback to the tough guy heroes of the past such as Lee Marvin and Steve McQueen As Ford I really saw Russell channeling his father, Kurt Russell’s performance as Snake Plissken into the character of this gruff anti-hero loner and just like his dad the younger Russell makes for a compelling action star.
But our heroes are only as good as our bad guys and Overlord gets some seriously nasty villains here. Standing out amongst them is Pilou Asbæk as Captain Wafner, a Nazi SS Officer who is one sadistic bastard and who will do anything to possess the unholy power that the German High Command seek to control. Asbæk really goes for the nasty side here and he’s a bone-chilling villain. Ruthless and evil to the core his desire for power and the horrors he’s willing to inflict to get it will leave you seriously unnerved.
Whether its the intensity of a flamethrower on full burst or a broken, twisted and snarling zombie chasing our heroes down a dark corridor, Overlord will get you lit. The action is uncompromising and when Boyce, Ford and their squad light up the Germans with automatic gunfire the cinema really booms with intensity. And you need serious firepower to take down these zombies….and for very good reason as well. Trust me when I say that there’s plenty of reasons to be unnerved with this film and its jump scares will absolutely freak you out.
From beginning to end Overlord is rock’n roll pulp cinema dialed up to 11 and its a seriously epic watch. They don’t get more fun than this and your adrenal gland will be working overtime so lock and load and get ready for something completely out of the box.
Image: Paramount Pictures