Sometimes, you just want to see zombie monster Nazis get blowed up real good. That’s a fun way to spend a couple of minutes, but if you want to sustain interest over a full two hours, a bit more work needs to go into it. Overlord does try, but it ends up spending too much time in a single location, beyond reason, and descending into a generic monster fight by the end. Still, points for effort.
It’s the night before D-Day and a group of paratroopers are riding out the night over France, ready to deploy to the French countryside and take out an important communications array. The flak from the German anti-aircraft batteries hit the plane, forcing it down early, killing most of those on board, and landing only a handful near their landing zone. Chief among them is Private Boyce and Corporal Ford as well as a few others.
The opening sequence is rather well done once the flak starts. The fall where we follow Boyce from the air to the ground is chock full of detail and feels dangerous. Keeping the point of view tight with Boyce is one of the keys, and it’s handled really well.
Anyway, once on the ground and collected, they walk to the town with the communications tower. It’s a prototypical French town under occupation with an overbearing German presence and cowed, but determined, French populace. The only French person we get to know is Chloe, a young good looking woman who attracts the attention of the German Captain Wafner. Wafner is the kind of monster you expect from a horror movie set in Nazi occupied France. He uses Chloe for sex, holding her family’s welfare over her head in order to accomplish it, while also gleefully enjoying violence on other people at the same time. Boyce forces his fellow soldiers’ hand, captures Wafner and then goes out to investigate a bit, accidentally falls into a truck full of dead bodies, gets transported into the sealed base, and escapes out through some underground tunnels.
It’s here that I really picked up. The stuff that Boyce finds in those tunnels and in a hidden lab are a bit out of nowhere and is super weird. I especially like the head, still connected to its spine but nothing else, calling out for help. It’s the sort of set of images designed to instill a sort of abject horror because it has little connection to the everyday. I’d go so far as to say that it’s Lovecraftian. Unfortunately, the movie never follows up on that promise.
After his quick trip, Boyce brings back a mysterious syringe to the captured German captain. We get a couple of long scenes of Ford beating Wafner, trying to get information. Wafner ends up with his hands on a gun, killing one of the other soldiers. In a very odd moment, Boyce decides to inject the newly created corpse of his buddy with the mysterious syringe. Buddy immediately comes back from the dead filled with rage trying to kill everyone, only to be stopped when Boyce bashes him in the head multiple times, enough to crush the skull completely. They’re in an attic, having shouted for hours, had a couple of gunshots, and more shouting, and the local Nazis never come to investigate. Sure.
Time runs out, and the soldiers need to move. So, they create a diversion in one of the most implausible ways possible (tying a German soldier to a motorcycle, filling the sidecar with explosives, and somehow getting him to drive it right into the German base as though he had no control of the motorcycle) and move in. There’s fighting back and forth, Wafner gets injected with the serum as well as Ford and they have some sort of wire-assisted fight of human monsters with gory makeup. It’s a serious step down from the weird Lovecraftian horror of Boyce’s first trip into the base. It’s fine, but nothing compared to the earlier promise.
Good guys win. Bad guys lose. Boyce buries the truth of the serum until tons of rubble.
The movie’s a real mixed bag. It’s better in its first half than second. It’s middle section drags in a single room. The final fight is a letdown. I think the movie’s cinematography betrays a studio bound feel with too many unexplained light sources lighting too much. A more naturalistic feel might have worked better for me (with more limited light from more defined sources). It’s amusing enough for a single viewing, but no more than that.
Netflix Rating: 3/5
Quality Rating: 2/4