Overlord is a ghoulish Nazi horror but feels undercooked

Overlord: a decent action-based horror; a bad horror; an okay movie. It’s exceptionally average in many respects. A soldier named Boyce, portrayed by Jovan Adepo, finds himself a soldier in Operation Overlord and, more specifically, the D-Day landings of World War II. After becoming separated from his fellow troops after parachuting from a flaming plane, Boyce makes contact with three others who had jumped alongside him. One of them is Corporal Ford, played by Wyat Russell. Ford promptly takes control of the situation and the small group are soon being led to a nearby French village by a young French woman named Chloe (who is played by Mathilde Ollivier).

The central characters mentioned above don’t contribute much more than who they might be described as on paper, Overlord seldom delivers a moment that can be taken very seriously. A plot can be flawed but augmented by interesting characters. However, this isn’t the case in Overlord. Wyatt Russell cast as some kind of commanding force with a touch of rogue just isn’t a good fit. It feels downright contrived every time he attempts to convey stoic heroism.

Russell might have been suited to the more similar personality of Boyce rather than the Corporal. Having said that, Jovan Adepo did a good job as the innocent Boyce and was probably the most believable character, so realistically, Russell probably just shouldn’t be in this movie.

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Boyce is the young, earnest protagonist who stumbles across the sadistic Nazi experiments // IMDb

The plot surrounds a subject no one in the world isn’t familiar with: the Nazis are conducting secret, inhumane experiments. And apparently, they’re also doing this near an incredibly obvious point of invasion for the allies. Not that there was any kind of method to gauge the timescale of the movie, but unless the audience was being heavily led astray, the main protagonist jumped from a plane, met three other people and was led to the location of sadistic experiments, which absolutely would hold the potential for turning the tide of the entire war, all on the same night. There’s a thin line for the Nazis between high levels of confidence and stupidity being very fast breached by the front line of the allied forces in this movie.

Another major quarrel with this film is that as a horror movie, it simply isn’t scary. There’s rarely a moment of tension during any attempt to set up even the most predictable of jump scares, which are usually a poor excuse for not having something scary to begin with. Horror movies are unique in that they can be, in probably too many cases, stripped back to reveal an absurd plot line and sometimes the actors aren’t all that they should be, but given the genre, sometimes people don’t really care about those things because it’s just a thrill to feel freaked out, and that’s fine. The glaring problem here is presenting none of the above, and then failing to do what it says on the spooky tin.

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Wyatt Russell plays the often cliched Corporal Ford, showing glimpses of his father during the more action-packed scenes // IMDb

There is definitely some gruesome, unsettling imagery, and this is especially true for the horrific creatures which are seen all too briefly towards the end of the film. But the movie’s failure to capitalise on the creepiest elements is frustrating. It’s a waste of time if the main premise of the film is almost ignored entirely. To top this off, Overlord has too many moments that can only be described as comedy relief. But there is no relief if the audience isn’t tense to begin with. It actually borders on being annoying and ultimately portrays the characters as being less serious. If done right, comedy can be a great way to control the pace of a horror movie and allow the audience a moment to breathe in between scares; it can lure the viewer into a false sense of security only to pay it off by exploiting that feeling later on.

There’s nothing wrong with simplicity. In fact, it might be an underrated virtue in cinema, but Overlord is a boring movie because it doesn’t cover what makes even a simple story interesting or unique. It takes its time in all the wrong places and, as a result, doesn’t really keep the audience on the edge of their seats long enough to be let down by the horror that never quite makes it onto the big screen by the end.

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Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbæk continues his impressive knack of truly immersing himself as a hideous villain // IMDb

 

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