It was about fucking time… I remember that day and that feeling like it was yesterday. It was the year of our Lord Satan 2015 and I was sitting in a theater watching the first few minutes of Mad Max: Fury Road. And within those first few minutes, I simply knew that this is going to be a great movie. And it was. The whole thing happened again, only this time not in the theater. Overlord is a brutal horror/action movie and it represents the awakening of the Hollywood big shots (I am looking at you JJ) to a strange sub-genre that has spawned many great movies. I will recommend a couple, but first, let’s see what we got here.
Overlord is a movie directed by Julius Avery (Son of a Gun) and produced by Bad Robot Productions (Cloverfield, Star Trek, Star Wars, Mission: Impossible) and it represents a perfect blend of underexposed director and overexposed production company. It has nothing to do with Cloverfield. Although the budget was $38 million, the movie doesn’t look cheap but quite the opposite. There’s this distinct visual style with a very vibrant and saturated color palette that makes everything seem much cooler, for lack of the better term. Julius is coming to us from Australia and you can feel that down under vibe, especially when compared to The Spierig Brothers’ Undead or Kiah Roache-Turners’ Wyrmwood.
The beginning of the movie is one of those timeless sequences that we will learn by heart in the following decades. Like that fucking chopper ride in Predator. It’s immediately obvious that this movie looks good, feels good, has a great sense of pacing and more importantly is willing to work on practical special effects instead of CGI. For fuck’s sake, if this is some test, we fucking passed it! And hopefully, this will carry on into the Star Trek and Star Wars universes. Stylish and clean, it also reminded me of Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, but just in the visual sense because the whole thing feels like a video game. Oddly enough, I did play Return To Castle Wolfenstein, but to say that this movie is stealing stuff would be just wrong because this is a special genre. And there are sequences that look like they are cut scenes from some really cool video game. When it comes to the story, well…
It is Monday, 5th of June, 1944, and tomorrow the allies will begin one of the biggest military operations the world has ever seen. A squad of paratroopers is set to deploy before the operation, behind enemy lines and destroy a radio-jamming tower in a small French village Cielblanc. As they are flying into the storm, the plane gets heavily damaged under Nazi anti-aircraft fire and the squad ends up scattered around the forest. Soon, they regroup along with a French girl living in the village and she will help them with their mission. However, what will they encounter is something that wasn’t even in their wildest nightmares…
Overlord may start as a relatively cute war action movie but after about 45 minutes it turns into full-bloodied mayhem with severed limbs and pretty strange and unnerving scenes. At this time, we should talk about Nazi Zombies sub-genre that finally got another great movie. The whole thing broke open back in 2008-2009 when Tommy Virkola released Dead Snow and Steve Barker Outpost, starring fucking Ray Stevenson. Both of the movies featured occult experiments and Nazis, much like in a Guillermo del Toros’ Hellboy released four years earlier. The real source of this material are Nazi exploitation movies from the sixties and seventies. And just one more honorable mention when it comes to these movies, check out Town Creek.
The acting was great along with a script that knew when to pause for comedic relief and when to ramp up the tension. Combined with great camera work, it all just clicked together. In the end, I have to say that you have to know what you’re getting yourself in before playing this movie. I loved it because I love the whole Nazi Zombie vibe along with big production, great special effects and finally some juicy action. Sure, the whole thing is a bit predictable and cliched but you have to understand that this is that type of movie. If you want to watch a movie with better characters, a better story about WWII or something else than you should do it. But, let us enjoy this gem…
Director: Julius Avery
Writer: Billy Ray, Mark L. Smith
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Bokeem Woodbine
Fun Facts:The title of the film is, no doubt, in reference to Operation Overlord, the codename for the Allied operation for the Battle of Normandy, which launched the successful invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. This, alongside Operation Neptune, would become known as D-Day.