“…nothing at all stands out about it.”
Last night I saw Overlord and it is most definitely an experience that I will be soon forgetting. Overlord tells the story of a group of American soldiers in WWII who are dropped in Nazi-occupied France to disarm a signal jammer that is preventing allied air support for troops on the ground. Little do these soldiers know that the small French town they are dropping into is a hotbed of Nazi experimentation.
I would feel bad for essentially spoiling the movie in that sentence, but in my opinion this is obvious from the get-go. The Nazi army is famed for having done countless experiments on unwilling participants during WWII; the benefits of which can be debated, the ethics can not. From the first trailer for Overlord it was obvious that this was the route they were going, but in my opinion it could have been done much better.
Overlord as a movie is very stylized. At times it almost felt like I was reading a comic book, not because of any over-the-top creations or scenarios (per se) but just how the movie carries itself. There is no question as to whether or not Overlord is a traditional WWII film (it’s not), and that kind of sucks in my opinion. Had Overlord been marketed and started off as your run-of-the-mill war film I feel like the reveals in the movie would have carried a lot more weight. They would have acted as a surprise rather than a reward for slogging through the rest of this movie.
It’s weird because Overlord treats WWII as a joke. Not that it is making fun of war efforts or downplaying the sacrifices soldiers made during that time, but WWII films are often very serious. If you want to make a fun war movie you go for Vietnam. It’s just a fact. Despite that Overlord attempts to inject the life that something like the Vietnam war oozes into an otherwise morbid topic; and it doesn’t work in my opinion.
What we get from Overlord is largely generic. The film goes through the motions of a classic Hollywood movie, hitting all of the beats that you have come to expect after seeing the trailer, and nothing at all stands out about it. It kind of rides the line between horror and action, but it never really breaks into either one of those genres. The moments of action only exist briefly in the film, and the horror elements just aren’t that scary. Unsettling sure, but not scary.
This brings me to my next point which is where exactly Overlord falls in the ‘horror’ genre. Much like Rob Zombie’s take on the Halloween franchise, I feel that Overlord is a movie that relies on ‘gorror’ rather than horror. In other words it uses gross-out imagery and grotesque scenarios to try and make the audience feel uneasy. This would be fine for Overlord, especially had the film played it straight, but in order for it work there would have to be one major change: the effects. The special effects in Overlord are not good. The film’s ideas are obviously ambitious and they are legitimately interesting, but they lose every ounce of punch when they look like they belong in the new Wolfenstein game instead of a professional film.
Honestly Overlord probably would have worked better as a comic book for this reason alone. I feel that the story, while terribly generic, did have some solid points to it. Had the ‘scary’ moments either packed more of a punch by not looking terrible or actually being scary, Overlord might have made an impact on audiences.
Also I cannot put into words how happy I am that Overlord is not a hidden Cloverfield sequel. I hope this means that Mr. Abrams has learned his lesson.
Overall Overlord is a movie. There is nothing about it that I will remember in a week, and there is nothing worth mentioning in the conclusion. It exists. It could have been good, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t technically bad, but once again it wasn’t good either. It was a movie.
I give Overlord a C