Over-the-top action horror follows US soldiers on a mission behind enemy lines who discover a Nazi lab full of unholy experiments.
It pleasantly over-delivers as a charming B-grade triumph, says Daniel Rutledge.
Overlord looks like it should be a derivative, direct-to-DVD stinker, but it pleasantly over-delivers as a charming B-grade triumph. It knows what it is, keeps its sights set on comfortably-within-range targets and nails them well. The Third Reich’s flirtation with the occult has made for countless schlocky pop culture releases over the decades, most of them very average. This one probably isn’t going to win any awards, but it more than deserves the cult following it will surely develop.
The supernatural elements aren’t introduced until well into the running time after a solid pre-D-Day invasion sequence sets the tone. Tension is developed immediately and never really lets up, maintaining a satisfying rhythm that’s peppered with jump-scares and violence. The American platoon that gets trapped in a Nazi-controlled French town is made up of cliched characters, but they’re generally endearing enough and all anchored by Jovan Adepo’s lovely lead performance.
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When the freaky shit starts happening, it’s wisely never over-explained. The filmmakers use visual language and rely on the audience connecting a few basic dots, galloping from action scenes to tension-building scenes and back again instead of mucking about with too much silly exposition. Despite the R-rating and large amounts of blood, Overlord doesn’t wallow in excessive gore. When people are killed you definitely know they’ve been killed, but over-the-top violence is never done for laughs. Indeed, the tone is surprisingly serious however kitsch the subject matter may make it all sound, but somehow it really worked for me.
It won’t work for everybody. Horror nuts wanting a pure dread experience, splatter comedy fans wanting to have a giggle and war movie purists all may leave disappointed. But for viewers open to an entertaining, unlikely mash-up, Overlord is bloody great.