ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 8, 2018
By Steve Newton
I’m not sure horror and war go together that well in movies. War is already horrifying enough, and goring it up just seems kinda pointless. But that didn’t stop the makers of Overlord—including hotshot producer J.J. Abrams—from trying their darnedest to find some whacked-out middle ground between Re-Animator and Saving Private Ryan.
Jovan Adepo stars as Boyce, a super-nice, newbie U.S. private on a D-Day mission to parachute behind German frontlines and take out a radio transmitter pivotal to the success of the invasion. After a harrowing opening sequence in which their plane takes enemy fire we pick up with Boyce and his fellow soldiers—including seen-it-all loudmouth Tibbett (John Magaro) and intense, by-the-book Ford (Wyatt Russell)—as they regroup on the ground and set out to accomplish their heroic deed.
Much of the film’s first half is spent depicting how truly nasty Nazis are, as if we didn’t already know. They gleefully empty machine-guns into captured Yanks, randomly execute French villagers, and have their evil ways with the womenfolk. And what’s a good old-fashioned Nazi-bashing without a prim, bespectacled mad doctor and ghastly revelations of secret human experiments?
Danish actor Pilou Asbæk from Game of Thrones pretty well steals the show with his portrayal of vile Nazi officer Wafner. “A thousand year Reich needs thousand year soldiers!,” he proclaims, referring to the effects of a bright-red serum that, when injected, turns its dead host into a wildly mutating, ultra-powerful killing machine.
The most impressive thing about Overlord—which is otherwise quite wanting as far as the writing and acting goes—is the grisly setpieces created by its devoted team of makeup-FX artists. Hardcore fans of Fangoria, currently basking in the return of its blood-spattered pages to print, seem to be the target audience for the no-holds-barred gruesomeness of the loud and relentless Overkill. Err…Overlord, I mean.