June 6, 1944 is the day known around the world as D-Day. This historic day marks the massive invasion of France by the allied forces in an effort to regain the country from the hands of Germany and push back the mighty German war machine all the way to Berlin. There have been many movies, books, and even videogames about the invasion over the years, so even the biggest war buffs might be wondering…really, they made yet another movie about D-Day? Well, the movie Overlord is quite a bit different from anything we have even seen previously. This movie is still about Operation Overlord but does not focus on the amphibious assault and instead shows us the missions leading up to it. Still not unique enough for you? Well, in Overlord we have all the battles, weaponry and Nazis of an excellent war film but in true J.J. Abrams fashion we now also have ZOMBIES!
Overlord focuses on a small unit tasked to take out a radio tower atop a church in a small village in France. The unit led by Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) and comprised of fresh out of paratrooper training Privates Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite) and Tibbet (John Magaro) are the only survivors of the doomed mission, but understand that if they do not complete it, then the allied invasion will be without crucial air support. During their trek to the church they meet a young French woman from the village named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who offers to accompany them and assist in taking out the radio tower.
When the ragtag team reach the village, it immediately becomes apparent that everything is not as it should be. They go to Chloe’s house to formulate their plan and are greeted by howling and grunting coming from a closed door down the hallway. Chloe states that her aunt also lives in the house and is very “sick” after being taken to the church by a German soldier. At the same time, through a series of unfortunate events, Private Boyce discovers a brutal laboratory where other villagers are also being made “sick”.
For those who have seen the preview of Overlord and expect it to be war-based horror movie may be a little disappointed. While there certainly are horrific events, and plenty of scenes fighting the undead, Overlord is much more about the atrocities that the Nazi regime inflicted on innocents in an effort to purse the 1000-year-old Reich. J.J. Abrams spins a tale about how a small group of dedicated soldiers can pull out the impossible, even when there are hordes of Nazi soldiers and undead monsters standing in their way and does this in a spectacular and very believable way. The movie seems far more realistic than it should considering we are talking about zombie soldiers, but the events unfold as if they could actually happen. The movie is less The Walking Dead and more Saving Private Ryan, focusing not so much on the undead creatures themselves, but more the experimentation and mad-scientist efforts to create the ultimate super soldier. The story was outstanding and how they depicted everything from the soldiers to the zombies was top notch.
The movie is beautifully shot, standing tall next to other war epics such as Saving Private Ryan or Dunkirk. Even though the main plot of the film isn’t the invasion itself, it goes to astonishing detail to show how massive the invasion truly was. The opening scene is both epic and terrifying and the horrors of war are explored throughout. The acting was also superb, leading you to immediately care about the team and root for their success in the mission.
If it is not already clear, I absolutely loved this movie! They did a masterful job of blending the war/horror genre in such a way, that it never overly feels like one versus the other. It’s an action packed, edge of your seat thriller, with just enough jump scares included to remind you that it is billed as a horror movie. Overlord is a very unique take on an unfortunate time in history and it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2018.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Second Review By Joshua Aja
June 6th 1944, D-Day. Paratroopers from the 101st Airborne are being dropped behind German lines in an attempt to secure crucial targets ahead of the invasion at Normandy. One squad is tasked with taking out a radio jamming tower that was installed on top of a church in a small French village. But before they make their drop zone their plane takes heavy fire and is breaking apart as the men scramble to get out of the plane and deploy their parachutes. Four members of the unit make it to the initial rendezvous point. Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell), the explosives expert and only one who has seen action, takes control and leads Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Private Tibbet (John Magaro), and Photographer Chase (Iain De Caestecker) to their objective. Along the way they find a villager, Chloe (Mathide Ollivier), who is able to sneak them into town. When they get to the village they find that there is something strange happening in the village. The Nazi commander Wafner (Pilou Asbaek) is rounding villagers and taking them to the church where they are being experimented on by a Dr. Schmidt (Erich Redman). They must complete their mission by morning or the entire invasion could be in jeopardy. But they don’t realize what they are about to discover in the basement of the church. They will be lucky to survive the horrors they find inside the church, let alone complete their mission.
A World War II horror film is definitely an original concept. I don’t know of many and this is definitely going to be in that category. Take away the “zombie” like creature and this would be a typical war movie about a small squad trying to overcome large odds and internal conflict to save the day. Luckily there are the “zombie,” or undead creatures, to make this story a lot more unique. The cast does a good job but also has some cheesy moments. I like how Adepo’s character was not your typical hero and his chemistry with Ollivier. Asbaek plays a decent villain also. The story has its tense moments throughout and director Julius Avery (Son of a Gun) does a good job moving the film along. I am not a big fan of the “jump scare” and this film is on the borderline of overdoing it in my opinion. There are definitely some gory scenes and the makeup and effects for them are good.
This film does a good job of blending the war action and horror genres. I think it is a good big screen film with lots of action. It lacked in some areas but got me on the edge of my seat a couple of times and I enjoyed it overall.
3.5 out of 5