Overlord is the horror movie surprise of this Fall for us. We expected something quite entertaining, but it has more depth and intensity than expected. Also, it’s extremely entertaining from the opening shot!
Overlord can almost be described as a hybrid of Saving Private Ryan and 28 Days Later. And while most people could expect the latter reference, the first definitely wasn’t one I expected.
Honestly, I had my heart in my throat during the entire opening sequence. For me, it definitely was along the lines of Saving Private Ryan, which still stands as having one of the most iconic and breathtaking (as well as heartbreaking) opening shots.
In Overlord, we meet the young (and mostly very inexperienced) soldiers getting close to the airspace over Normandy. The date is quickly revealed as D-Day itself.
This gives us something tangible to relate to as the soldiers are noticing the many warships approaching that same coast.
A new kind of zombie
Just as it was the case with the aforementioned 28 Days Later, we’re not dealing with the traditional zombie. In Overlord, we’re (once again) faced with the results of human experiments. The purpose is to create soldiers who can fight harder, longer, and better.
This is accomplished by creating a serum (or virus) that in turn creates a zombie-like human. Which has no feeling about anything either – except beating the opponent.
And yes, we’re sticking with the term zombie, since it works with the frame of reference we know from horror movies. Human beings can come back from being dead and become practically immortal.
But do forget the usual zombie “rules”. Those don’t really apply here, so killing them is a whole other ordeal.
The first actual transformation into a zombie-human is a brilliant scene. It sets the tone for the rest of the movie and is instantly iconic for this kind of zombie.
Both in terms of their personality and physical capabilities. You can show me that scene over and over again!
The perfect protagonist for this story
Since Overlord is very much about the things that make us human, the lead character of Boyce (Jovan Adepo) is perfect to me. He was drafted just three months before flying to Normandy and is still very much in the mindset of a civilian.
He does what his country asks of him, but has no need for violence or hatred. However, he does very much want to help those in need and is willing to do whatever it takes. In that sense, he has all the makings of a good soldier.
Boyce is portrayed with exquisite heart and edge by Jovan Adepo. He may not be familiar to many, but he did co-star in Fences. The Denzel Washington directed movie that led to Viola Davis receiving a much-deserved Academy Award.
Jovan Adepo was also in Darren Aranofsky’s Mother! and the TV show The Leftovers.
After watching him portray the lead character in Overlord, I do hope we’ll get to see him as the star in more movies. He is one of the main reasons this movie works as well as it does!
One woman to lead them all
Also, I have to mention Mathilde Ollivier. She’s practically the only woman in Overlord, but she’s so absolutely badass amazing that she almost shines more on her own.
She’s used to taking care of herself as someone living in Nazi-occupied Normandy, but also takes care of others. That’s why she’s so quick to trust Boyce (Jovan Adepo) even though she’s not as naive as she initially lets them believe.
More movies with Mathilde Ollivier as well, please!
Pilou Asbæk as a zombie villain
The big villain of Overlord is Pilou Asbæk. Calling him a “zombie villain” is hardly a spoiler since it’s revealed in the trailer and some versions of the official poster.
You may know him from Game of Thrones or Ghost in the Shell, but since he’s Danish (like us Heaven of Horror girls), we know him from all sorts of movies.
His Game of Thrones character, Euron Greyjoy, is a pretty good frame of reference for this character. In Overlord, he portrays a Nazi, who lives and breathes war. He has no need to live in a world without war since being a soldier is what he does best.
And yes, he does work pretty damn well as the zombie villain in Overlord. He’s quite the “good-looking” zombie (in a very horror movie way) with about a quarter of this face missing.
Overlord as an instant classic
I was completely engulfed in the Overlord story for the entirety of its runtime. And honestly, that’s not exactly what you expect from a movie that (on paper) sounds like a cool zombie movie that takes place during World War 2. At least, I didn’t!
And once again, this was the exact feeling I had when I originally watched both Saving Private Ryan and 28 Days Later. These are stories that reach out and grab you from the beginning and never let us go. In very different ways, of course.
Also, I have no problem saying that I loved the fact that it was a black man as the protagonist. Why the hell not? We’ve had decades worth of the white guy always being the hero.
Enough already, we’re ready for some new stories. They do exist in the real world, so why not in the movies.
This is only the second feature film by director Julius Avery, but he already has another announced – the upcoming Flash Gordon movie.
To me, Overlord is one of the best zombie-related movies in recent years. It’s up there with The Night Eat the World though the two are very different kinds of movies. Overlord has much more action, which should please many horror fans!
Overlord will be out in US theaters from November 9, 2018. It will also be out on Netflix in the US on June 6, 2020.
Director: Julius Avery
Writers: Billy Ray (story) and Mark L. Smith
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro, Iain De Caestecker, Dominic Applewhite
On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers are dropped behind enemy lines to carry out a mission crucial to the invasion’s success. But as they approach their target, they begin to realize there is more going on in this Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. They find themselves fighting against supernatural forces, part of a Nazi experiment.