Film Review: "Overload"

Today's moviegoing marketplace is becoming increasingly crowded, with November giving us big blockbuster hits like the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” an animated Grinch film, and the new “Fantastic Beasts” movie. With all these big event films, it's easy for smaller fare to get lost in the marketplace.

One of those smaller films is the World War II horror flick “Overlord.” If you haven't heard of it, it was released on Oct. 9, and based on its poor box office returns, it may have already left the theaters. It's a shame, because “Overlord” is a solid little B­-movie that packs a punch and carries plenty of thrills.

Set on the eve of the D-­Day invasion in 1944 France, “Overlord” focuses on an American paratrooper squad led by Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell), who is tasked with destroying a German radio base that’s in a church. However, when Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is forced to enter the base through circumstance, he discovers secret Nazi experiments that are turning the local village’s residents into zombified super-soldiers with increased strength and a vicious intent to kill. As the captured Nazi captain Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) puts it, “a thousand-­year army needs thousand-­year soldiers.” Now, the American soldiers are forced to complete the original mission, one crucial to the success of the invasion, and destroy the Nazi’s new undead army.

What impressed me the most about “Overlord” was how grounded the movie remained, despite its fantastical elements. In the hands of another filmmaking crew, “Overlord” could’ve been a cheesy and ridiculous Nazi­-zombie movie, with more laughs than scares. Instead, screenwriters Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith played it straight, with well­-defined characters and a story that keeps the audience invested, without going off the rails. The film never loses focus of its larger conflict beyond the zombie gorefest: the mission to destroy the radio tower before morning.

The film is also competently made. One of the best scenes is the opening sequence where the paratrooper squad’s plane is shot down by German forces. It’s a clear example of the gritty, kinetic vibe that director Julius Avery gives “Overlord.” The ensemble cast also does a great job, with clear standouts being Adepo as Pvt. Boyce, the heart of the film, and Russell as the gruff Cpl. Ford, who’s committed to sticking to the mission and fighting until the bitter end. Finally, the film’s special effects are well­ done for a mid-­budget film, with the zombies looking appropriately grotesque (it’s all practical makeup, by the way).

As a whole, “Overlord” is an exciting and intense thriller that deserves more attention amidst all the holiday fare, with its great action, powerful characters, and intriguing story. Catch it while you can before it leaves the multiplex; it’s worth your time.

Evan RoweComment