A group of World War II soldiers discover grotesque experiments done by Nazi’s in a remote German village, creating zombified creatures. Released in 2018, Overlord is an unexpected genre blend – serving as part war drama and part zombie thriller. A concept originated from the mind of J.J. Abrams, the film reinvents the idea of the “living dead” into something we haven’t quite seen before.
After their plane is shot down by Nazi soldiers, Private First Class Edward Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and the surviving members, head out on foot to finish their mission in destroying the oppositions radio tower. In the woods, they meet Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), a woman from the village who helps lead them safely to her home. Chloe informs the soldiers that there are inhumane experiments being performed, which has left her aunt in grave condition, and others still missing.
When Chloe’s young brother is kidnapped by the Nazi’s, the American soldiers attempt a rescue, though Corporal Lewis Ford (Wyatt Russell) is staunch in regards to them continuing with the mission. After sneaking his way into the Nazi compound, Boyce finds his way to a test room and uncovers the disturbing effects of the experiments being performed. Something otherworldly and horrifying that goes beyond anything imaginable.
Zombie-focused stories definitely saw an uprise after the wild success of The Walking Dead series, when it premiered back in 2010. Something these films or tv series failed to do was reinvent the story. It would often be the same general idea, setting, and was fairly formulaic across the board. What I loved about Overlord was the fact that it, at its core, is a war story; and other than Dead Snow (which is more a comedy), hasn’t been done before in the zombie subgenre.
I found the film to be a unique approach to the idea of the living dead, especially against the backdrop of World War II. It makes the premise of the film feel very grounded in reality, when you consider that horrific experiments were done throughout this time. But even with a heavy subject matter, it still is a ridiculously fun zombie flick. It has some great special effects and creature designs that stand out uniquely from this film. I also really enjoyed the set design, especially for the experiment room; which has this grungy, steampunk aesthetic.
Overlord is an excellent zombie film that doesn’t overdue it, focusing on its characters rather than going for shock value. I appreciated its thought-out story, that still had some fun with the genre. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, as it transitions from a standard war drama at the beginning, to this wonderful science-fiction horror film midway through to its end.
It’s a truly great horror movie and it’s a shame that it didn’t perform better at the box office. I’m certainly one of those people who regrets not having watched it in theaters, but I definitely recommend giving it a watch this spooky season.
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