Directed by: Julius Avery
Written by: Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith
Starring: Bokeem Woodbine, Iain De Caestecker, John Magaro, Jovan Adepo, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk and Wyatt Russell.
Director Julius Avery has put together a real rip snortin’ horror adventure tale with latest release Overlord. Set on the eve of D – Day, a group of soldiers are being dropped into occupied France to destroy a radio tower that the Nazi’s have placed on top of a small town church. The tower is blocking radio signals, and our heroes have to destroy the tower so radio signals can get through to the allies, or something. Actually it’s not that important, as this premise is only there to serve as the device to get our cast into the action and uncover the real threat. And it’s quite a threat too.
The Nazi’s have been experimenting on the dead, and the living apparently if the poor French Auntie of our female lead is anything to go by, and they have found a mysterious fluid that seems to bring the dead back to life in a berserker rage. The German mad scientist doctor has a lab conveniently located in the same church as the radio mast, and has been doing various nasty experiments on cadavers before taking them outside and burning them. In a gripping opening scene, the crew of an allied plane is gunned down, sending our ensemble of heroes plummeting into the horror that is festering in the small town populated mainly by terrified woman, and one 8 year old boy. When our cast find themselves in the town, they run into Chloe, who takes them to hide in her house, with her 8 year old brother and deformed experimented on Aunt, that they have strangely released back into the community for no other reason than to jump scare the audience. While there, a Nazi officer intrudes with terrible intentions, and becomes a captive of the soldiers hiding out in Chloe’s attic.
This kick starts a series of events that leads the men into the heart of a frightening and gruesome Nazi experiment that threaten to create an army of mutated super soldiers that they will use to win the war, or something. That’s probably the main problem with this movie. We are never really sure what the main plot of the film is. In one respect it’s an old fashioned war movie with a rag tag bunch of soldiers, thrown into an impossible mission against incredible odds. In the same space, we have an almost Grindhouse B movie, with hideous mutant zombies, violent and gratuitous action sequences, jump scares and zombies.
It’s a similar juxtaposition to Dog Soldiers, with soldiers against werewolves, but here it’s grotesque Nazi made zombie soldiers.
Actually, the film itself isn’t really sure how the experiments work. We see slime filled body bags with creatures inside, but that device is only used as a scare and never mentioned again as the writers decide that it’s easier to use injections filled with red goo plunged into living, or dead bodies, it eventually doesn’t matter, to bring about super strength and invulnerability. The doctor here has been busy though, as the lab is filled with talking heads, bodies on slabs and crazed monsters locked in cells. What on Earth are they actually trying to achieve is never really clear. Would an army of rage filled slobbering zombies really aid the war effort? How would they control them? What exactly would they do? It’s all very silly, but I suppose with the style of the film, you just have to over look these trifling issues and focus on the gore, the action and the set pieces, and don’t get me wrong, they are very enjoyable.
Despite it’s Grindhouse tropes, there’s a lot of fun to be had here and it’s been a while since we have seen a film that is so self aware that it can’t be bothered to try and be anything else. Everyone plays it straight, there are good practical effects and the characters, as two dimensional as they are, serve their purpose. I enjoyed this as much as I could, and my only concern was the release date. This opening weekend was probably not the best time to release such a film and I can imagine there will be some backlash for the inconsiderate timing, if it was up to me, I would have pushed for a Halloween release, and if that was too early hold it back a week – but this is a film review so if this kind of schlock B movie horror is your thing, you will really enjoy this!