Just before D-Day, A US platoon is parachuted behind enemy lines to destroy a Nazi radio tower. Then they discover the French village near the target has both a secret laboratory and a touch of the occult running under it….
What a horror pitch that is, right? You know there’s going to be some ruckus with that one, promising what they used to call derring-do mixed with satisfying stompings of history’s most hateable bad guys, and also zombies. It’s basically a WWII From Dusk Til Dawn, aye?
Naw. One decent jump scare and an almightily delivered headbutt does not a good movie make.
Like most JJ Abrams productions (Julius Avery directs this time), the film promises more than it delivers. The first act is all stürm-und-drang, as the airplanes delivering our heroes take a pounding, and then we find ourselves in the slow-cooker pressure zone of the film, as a French villager sympathetic to the Allied cause (Mathilde Ollivier) tells of strange goings-on in a local church that seems to be the cause of disappearing locals, some of whom return “ill” – like her curiously unseen but strangely heavily breathed aunt.
Some of these intrigues are never answered, and some are answered in a completely unsatisfying way that wouldn’t look out of place in early Buffy episodes.
Once more with a late-year Hollywood blockbuster, the script is the problem. The aunt is never resolved, except in a blatantly last-minute wide shot that still leaves questions, a mad scientist character explains little, adds less and seems to be there for retro grindhouse points, and in one key moment a character blunders into the experimental lab seemingly because the script thought it was time to do so. Like so many studio releases, this seems compromised by notes and a basic lack of care.
Lead Jovan Adepo shines amongst the mediocrity, conveying the struggle that defines his arc more than the overly expository dialogue aimed at his supposed coward of a soldier ever does, and Wyatt Russell – the man responsible for that screamer of headbutt – comes close to adding depth to his stoic meathead role, a trick his old man basically invented back in the Escape From New York days.
Which is probably a pointer to the kind of movie that Overlord tries and fails to be: a B-movie flick with pretensions. Unlike the best hybrids, like the aforementioned From Dusk Til Dawn or even the genuinely subversive Carpenter films, this just comes off as a rejected live-action commercial for a Call Of Duty zombies mode.