For those of you who don’t know the history of Overlord, it was long said to be the fourth installment in the Cloverfield franchise. While that depiction of the film was quickly debunked, it still made waves throughout the land and interest for the film soared. Once a trailer was released, troubles began to brew inside my head as far as the quality was concerned. But, I tried the film anyway and to my surprise it was startlingly entertaining!
Julius Avery’s close quarters direction creates an effective atmosphere similar to that of a videogame. From the surprising descent of the plane into chaos, the film has a sense of urgency and overall terror used to resemble the horror of war that they were diving headfirst into. This fairly new director is forthcoming with his passion for the horror genre while taking great care in the war backdrop at the same time. Every detail is oriented around the mission at hand and the experiments they encounter are just an unfortunate circumstance along the way. Overlord is a really tight film, with every scene taking place in a very minimal and claustrophobic atmosphere; this adds a fascinating depth to the horror of the film, especially with the hovering horror genre tone filtering the war film underneath it. Overlord is fast paced, intense, and incredibly defined as what it wants to be - a unique horror film.
Set during WW2, a group of paratroopers are sent on a mission to eliminate a communications tower under any means necessary. Things immediately don’t go according to plan as several troopers must fight to survive and hide amongst a Nazi controlled village until they can get their mission accomplished. Unfortunately for the soldiers, things get much worse when they start to realize there may be an even bigger terror than Nazis roaming the grounds. While the plot is certainly one of a kind, it doesn’t manage to excel in every category it attempts to capture. While the war mission against a small town group of Nazi command is intense and certainly immersive, the connection between the horror and the operative mission is lackluster to say the least. There’s so much more that can be explored with the experiments happening in the basement of the Nazi facility, all we see is a brief peak at what could of been. While the blend of stories may not be flawless, the script works surprisingly better than it should - creating a unique horror war film not like anything we’ve seen before.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Warning: This may become a rant.
I absolutely loathe the main actor in the film, Jovan Adepo (Boyce), because I know that he’s a fantastic actor from his work in Fences, but whether it be his acting within this feature or the script’s dialogue, he was one of the most frustrating main characters I’ve encountered in recent years. As previously mentioned, this film feels like a horror centric videogame and the way that a majority of these games are set up is that the lead (AKA the player) doesn’t speak much at all, which was the serious mistake in this film as the lead is a broken record, constantly nagging on every scenario in the film with his belief in the good in people; even when scenes just minutes earlier show him the exact outcome of clinging to those beliefs. Unfortunately this section is incredibly weighed down by the character of Boyce because all of the other characters in the film are grand. Wyatt Russell (Ford), John Magaro (Tibbet), and villainous Pilou Asbaek (Wafner) resemble stereotypical tropes of soldiers on the battlefield, but they are extremely entertaining with the outrageous tone and the viewer can connect easily with one or two of them because they resemble something so familiar. Mathilde Ollivier (Chloe) issues a prominent performance in the film. Fearing for her own life as well as her brothers, she fights for what is good and attempts to keep the peace on both ends as much as she physically can. Her outrage with the Nazi control, along with the experimental treatment of those that don’t contribute enough to Nazi society, is a powerful section of the feature. While her character does get unfortunately drowned out by the conclusion of the film, her first interaction with the troops, a rough encounter with a Nazi commander, and her final battle with an infected being all display her powerful performance surrounding the other members of the cast.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is a truly fascinating one, as it has the attribute of both an old fashioned horror score and a more modern action film. I have to applaud Jed Kurzel for contributing to a plot so immersive that you almost forget that you’re watching a film. From the eerie undertone to the over the top thrills of the music seeping through the horror displayed on screen, it’s a mesmerizing experience that reminds me enormously of another fine piece of music within The Babadook that shares a similar tone to this film, but exchanges a sense of action for one of curiosity. It’s this exceptional score along with the practically nonstop action that held my attention throughout and made it an immersive affair.
To say that I was awe struck by just how horrific and brutally pragmatic the makeup was on screen would be an understatement. The makeup in this film is brilliant in every regard. Every experimental being has a significantly different transformation, and with the help of the makeup, along with some unbelievable special effects, the transformations are beyond horrific. The set designs, between the experimental facility and the Nazi controlled town the film is primarily set in, are both astonishingly reminiscent of a much more classic style of filmmaking and it’s tremendous to witness.
Overlord is quite literally a bloody good time, although its aggravating main character consistently causes the film to spiral out of control. It’s a great key concept, and with the exception of that singular, yet very important character being the worst part of the feature, it’s certainly a film to see. I’d say that the insanity of the plot almost makes up for the disastrous main character. To tell the truth, without him along combined with a slight extension on the experimental side of the story, Overlord could have been a best of the year contender. Unfortunately that accolade doesn’t make the cut for this one-of-a-kind supernatural war film, but even so, Overlord is certainly one to keep an eye on when it hits video.