Entertainment » Movies

Overlord

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Nov 8, 2018
'Overlord'
'Overlord'  

I'm just gonna' say it.

"Overlord" is fucking fantastic!

After seeing the trailers for this J.J. Abrams-produced action/horror hybrid, I wasn't expecting anything but a loud, run-of-the-mill zombie movie that just happens to take place during WWII. While it might be loud, it certainly isn't standard horror movie fare. In fact, the film by Julius Avery ("Son of a Gun") is one of the best movies of the year in terms of production, thrills, cast, and overall surprise.

Set during D-Day, the film opens with a visceral sequence in an aircraft carrier where Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo "Fences") is nervously on his first mission to go behind enemy lines and take out a radio antenna placed on the roof of a church so the troops on the water can get land on Normandy safely. But the plane is hit, and those that don't die in the first few moments of the attack try to jump to safety. (Boyce's leap into the water is the first of many stunning shots that give audiences the feeling of the terrors of war.)

Once on the ground, Boyce runs into the only remaining members of his crew: Their leader Ford (Wyatt Russell), loudmouth Tibbet (John Magaro), skittish Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite), and war photographer Chase (Iain De Caestecker). The five run into a thief in the woods named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who leads them to her small village where the Nazis like to come and torment the villagers.

Chloe hides the crew in the attic while taking care of her small brother Paul (Gianny Taufer) and her strangely ill and hidden aunt. But the head Nazi officer Wafner (Pilou Asbaek) likes to use Chloe for his own sexual gratification, and it is here where our heroes find themselves at an ethical odds. While three of the soldiers are trying to find the radio tower, Ford and Boyce hide in the attic with Paul. When Chloe is being assaulted, our moral center - Boyce - stops what's going on, and soon enough Wafner is knocked out and tied up in the attic.

A lot of stuff happens at this point, some of it gruesome and violent, and other things strangely mysterious. Eventually, Boyce ends up inside the church after escaping Nazis he's witnessed doing deplorable things to prisoners. There, he discovers a number of atrocities that spell doom for his comrades and, potentially, the entire world.

What's fascinating about "Overlord" is how it is a very effective war film even as it dances around the possibilities of Nazi science experiments and body horror. Director Avery and writers Billy Ray "The Hunger Games") and Mark L. Smith ("The Revenant") effectively balance the war action and horror genres in ways that have never worked so well together. They spend a good fifty minutes setting up the characters and the stakes before moving us into the gruesome realities our group will eventually face.

And boy, is it gleefully gruesome.

But not in a silly way. This film doesn't have its tongue in its cheek here. It takes its action and its horror seriously — and it works. This is in part due to a tremendous cast of young actors who are all superb at creating distinct characters that the audience attaches themselves to. Even Magaro's Tibbet, who is so obnoxious you hope he'll be the first to go, is given a character an arc that is both realistic and touching. In that, the filmmakers keep subverting our expectations of what a traditional horror film would do and should be.

In fact, the entire film is fairly unpredictable, which makes every minute something you are completely invested and enthralled in. It was exciting to feel the audience completely wrapped up in what is happening on screen. And it's one of the most fun experiences I've had in a theatre all year.

Moreover, this film is a technical achievement. From that opening sequence aboard the plane to the final single shot finale, the movie wows on many levels. The production design is superb, and the special effects are a grisly marvel. When one character becomes a victim of a particular experiment in front of the soldiers the scene plays out brilliantly, utilizing a bit of gasping comedy with some truly horrific choreography. It's one of the best, most shocking scenes of the film.

Relative newcomer Adepo carries the film on capable heroic shoulders. While some people might grumble about the fact that troops were segregated during WWII, this is a movie about crazy Nazi science experiments, so I'm not sure historical accuracy was high on the priority list.

I urge you to just go and enjoy the ride. This is a fantastic film for movie lovers, war-film fanatics, horror enthusiasts, and action seekers alike.

The only crime against humanity here is if you were to "Nazi" it.

Overlord

On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate the walls of a fortified church and destroy a radio transmitter. As the soldiers approach their target, they soon begin to realize that there's more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. Making their way to an underground lab, the outnumbered men stumble upon a sinister experiment that forces them into a vicious battle against an army of the undead.

Info

Runtime :: 110 mins
Release Date :: Nov 09, 2018
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States

Cast

Boyce :: Jovan Adepo
Boyce :: Jovan Adepo
Ford :: Wyatt Russell
Ford :: Wyatt Russell
Wafner :: Pilou Asbæk
Wafner :: Pilou Asbæk
Chloe :: Mathilde Ollivier
Tibbet :: John Magaro
Chloe :: Mathilde Ollivier
Tibbet :: John Magaro
Chase :: Iain De Caestecker
Chase :: Iain De Caestecker
Dawson :: Jacob Anderson
Dawson :: Jacob Anderson
Rosenfeld :: Dominic Applewhite
Rosenfeld :: Dominic Applewhite
Rensin :: Bokeem Woodbine
Rensin :: Bokeem Woodbine
Scherzer :: Marc Rissmann
Scherzer :: Marc Rissmann

Crew

Director :: Julius Avery
Screenwriter :: Billy Ray
Screenwriter :: Mark Smith
Director :: Julius Avery
Screenwriter :: Billy Ray
Producer :: J.J. Abrams
Screenwriter :: Mark Smith
Producer :: Lindsey Weber
Producer :: J.J. Abrams
Executive Producer :: Jo Burn
Producer :: Lindsey Weber
Executive Producer :: Jon Cohen
Executive Producer :: Cory Lewis
Executive Producer :: Jo Burn
Cinematographer :: Laurie Rose
Executive Producer :: Jon Cohen
Cinematographer :: Fabian Wagner
Executive Producer :: Cory Lewis
Film Editor :: Matt Evans
Cinematographer :: Laurie Rose
Original Music :: Jed Kurzel
Production Design :: Jon Henson
Cinematographer :: Fabian Wagner
Costume Designer :: Anna Sheppard
Film Editor :: Matt Evans
Original Music :: Jed Kurzel
Casting :: Theo Park
Production Design :: Jon Henson
Costume Designer :: Anna Sheppard
Casting :: Theo Park


Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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