Overlord was rumoured to be another covertly filmed Cloverfield sequel but it’s anything but that. Set in World War II the film opens in the belly of a plane carrying the airborne platoon of soldiers who are to be dropped into Nazi controlled France in order to take out a radio beacon on a church steeple in order for the US troops to invade by ship. An already anxious platoon with equal share of newbies and old sweats quickly find the already flight goes awry when the violently shaking tin can of a plane in a tremendous sequence is shot to pieces with the soldiers desperately attempting to parachute out before the plane falls apart or crashes. Frankly it’s like a Ryanair flight over Syria the only difference being that this flight crashes near its destination rather than 40 miles away.
The handful of survivors led by Wyatt Russell, who looks like Jason Clarke’s younger brother, are given refuge in the nearby village by a peasant girl Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) who hates the occupying Nazi forces more than Ryanair hate giving refunds and here the SS captain, a Nazi doppelganger of a ex-labour shadow chancellor and Strictly Come Dancer Ed Balls, pops in to do to the girl what his spending policy would have done to the UK if he’d ever got his hands on the nation’s purse strings and the US soldiers hiding in the attic are in a quandry as to whether they should intervene but in the process blow their cover and end their mission.
The rag tag group of five soldiers realize pretty soon that they ultimately must go on a suicide mission to destroy the beacon knowing that they are far outnumbered but aware that the invading troops are only hours away. But something’s not right and when Boyce (Jovan Adepo) does manage to covertly make his way in to the church he finds what the Nazis are doing in the basement changes Overlord from a war film to horror.
For a JJ Abrams produced movie this is something of a move away from his usual stuff because the horror here at times is gleefully horrific seamlessly combining CGI and practical effects with some particularly gory moments and at one point slyly referencing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Overlord is a war / horror movie mash up and is quite a bold move for a major studio to make albeit that it’s got the clout of JJ Abrams behind it with director Julius Avery at the helm who has done a decent job spoiling it only with an end credit music score which starts off with era appropriate classic John Lee Hooker blues track which segues into an appalling rap track taking you out of the era. But that’s a minor point as there’s plenty to like about Overlord with an intense opening scene to an impending sense of doom with dead soldiers hanging from their parachutes in the flame ravaged forests to a bravura steadicam shot of Bryce desperately trying to escape from the catacombs of the church as all is going off around him.
With a no name cast there’s the guess work of just who is going to make it to the end though as the lead actor is the only black male in the cast it’s pretty clear that in this enlightened age he’s going to make it. If there’s one complaint it’s that his decision at the end doesn’t really make any sense or having any justification but that doesn’t take away from what is a breezy thriller which ramps up the horror as the film progresses as the Nazi secret is unveiled and for gamers its plays like a live action version of Wolfenstein.
Here’s the Overlord trailer……