For the longest time, I didn’t think that Overlord would release. Not because it was in production hell or anything like that, but because it was a part of J. J. Abrams Cloverfield universe and those movies can be announced years in advance before eventually releasing and disappointing audiences worldwide. Thankfully, Overlord was taken out of the Cloverfield universe because it was “too different.” It was then treated as a normal movie. It had a normal announcement earlier in the year, had a normal trailer release, and… here we are.
That’s really all of the interesting facts I have about Overlord for you. Now, for your reading pleasure, here are several paragraphs where I proceed to gush over how Overlord rocks HARD.
Director: Julius Avery
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Overlord is a tale of two vastly different genres smashed into one movie. For the first half, we follow a small group of paratroopers in World War II that are tasked with bombing a radio tower so that the Allied forces can invade Normandy and begin the D-Day invasion. The mission goes spectacularly wrong in the first five minutes with nearly all of them dying gruesome deaths, but once the surviving soldiers make it to a small French village under the control of the Nazis, things start to get weird. Villagers are taken in the middle of the night, corpses are stolen by the Nazis, and the Nazis seem really eager to burn their own soldiers that come out of their base. So the soldiers then decide to investigate what the hell the Nazis are doing to the villagers while also maintaining their original goal of blowing up the radio tower.
I’m finding it really hard to describe why Overlord is such an awesome movie, not because I can’t find the words to describe it, but it’s a movie that sells itself on its action and its premise. What are the Nazis up to? Well if they want a thousand year Reich, then they’re going to need soldiers that can fight for a thousand years, so we get Nazi zombies! Only the zombies don’t show up until the halfway point. For the first half, if I didn’t tell you that the movie was leading to Nazi zombies, then you would think that you’re watching Hacksaw Ridge, only for it to become Evil Dead 2, and I mean that as the highest of compliments.
From the very beginning, the movie hits you like a ton of bricks. Outside of a brief introduction, you’re thrown right into the action without any restraints. People are burned alive, blown up, and shot at like they were fish in a barrel. It’s unmistakably a war movie, but slowly it morphs into an ultra-violent gore fest straight out of a 70’s B-movie. However, even when it shifts into a grindhouse movie, it still maintains its serious tone. There are never any wink-to-the-camera moments or ironic jokes. Overlord plays its premise deadly straight, which only adds to its charm.
Normally there’d be a disconnect between the two styles. It’s hard to go from grounded war movie to “Let’s blow up some zombies,” but Overlord does it slowly and naturally. We’re not just shown Nazi zombies and suddenly they become the big bad guy. Instead, we see bizarre experimentations done by the Nazis, deliciously grotesque body horror, an introduction to a mysterious serum that our heroes have no idea what it does, and once everyone naturally pieces together what all of these clues mean, then we get to see the zombies in action. And yes, these zombies are actually scary.
These aren’t your Night of the Living Dead slow-moving kind of zombies. They’re fast. They’re aggressive. They regenerate. Worst of all, they’re intelligent. Just running into one zombie is enough to terrify our heroes, let alone an entire facility of these monsters. When we finally do get the action soaked second half, it is truly a treat to behold with blood oozing everywhere, bone-chilling screams, and action that only gets better as the movie builds to its climax.
There’s not much else to Overlord. There’s no grand unifying statement on war besides “Nazis suck!” The characters never get a chance to develop outside of their stereotypes. There’s the New Yorker, the young one, their gruff leader, the soldier with a heart of gold, the lady, and the rapist Nazi commander. They’re stock roles, but telling a compelling story isn’t the point of Overlord. The main goal is to entertain with gallons of blood and buckets of bullets, and it does that in spades.
Sometimes you just want to have fun watching a movie. You don’t need an intricate plot or complex characters to have a good time. Sometimes you just need to see a man walk into a room and curb stomp a zombie to death. Sometimes you want to see a zombie get shot at, thrown against a wall, blown up, and impaled and still be able to deliver a scenery-chewing monologue about the glory of Nazi immortality. Most importantly, sometimes you wanna sit back and watch a movie that isn’t afraid to have a damn good time.
No, Overlord isn’t going to win any Oscars any time soon, but I had a stupid grin on my face the entire time and loved every second of it. This is the kind of dumb, shlocky horror movie that they don’t release into theatres anymore. Grab some friends as I did, grab a big tub of popcorn, and let the good times roll.