If I have one complaint about “Overlord” it’s that there aren’t enough Nazi zombies. The J.J. Abrams-produced is a smart addition to the sub-sub-sub-sub genre of undead Third Reich films but plays more like one of those episodes of “The Walking Dead” where they talk about the zombies as much, if not more, then battle them.
The film begins with the stuff of 100 war movies. A platoon of young American soldiers, some cocky, some terrified, are aboard a plane, June 1944 just hours before D-Day. Their mission? Locate and bomb a tower located on the top of a church in a tiny French town. Why did the Nazis put this tower on top of the church? “Because they’re evil SOBs.“
When their plane takes serious fire from the Germans the paratroopers bail. A small number of them, including newbie Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Cpl. Ford (Wyatt Russell), the de facto leader with 1000 yard stare, gunner (Rosenfeld Dominic Applewhite), war photographer Chase (Iain De Caestecker) and loud mouth Tibbet (John Magaro)—survive the perilous parachute jump into German occupied France. On the ground they dodge bullets and the enemy before connecting with Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), a French woman who lives with her brother (Gianny Taufer) and aunt in their target town.
There they come into contact with the local SS commander Wafner (Pilou Asbæk) and, after some grizzly discoveries in a Nazi lab, learn of a nefarious plan to create “the blood of eternity” which gives anyone injected with it super strength, immunity to pain and a really bad attitude. “A thousand year Reich needs thousand year soldiers,” snarls Wafner. Question is, the Americans survive the jump, landmines and regular Nazis but can they survive Nazi Zombies?
“Overlord” is a hybrid of styles. An old school war film meets zombie action film is given a Lovecraftian bio-horror twist courtesy of a Josef Mengelesque evil Nazi scientist. It’s pure exploitation; a movie that drips with chemically engineered blood and guts. Director Julius Avery embraces the pulp aspects of the story, from the stereotypically cocky soldier Tibbet to the heroic Ford to the pure evil of Wafner (“They have been given a purpose,” he says. “They will contribute in ways you can’t imagine.”). Combined it adds up to a heightened experience that delivers within the confines of the zombie genre. If only there had been more zombies.