Let’s talk about Overlord.
This shouldn’t take too long, but I say that before all of my reviews. But you may know that there is a fine trade in Nazi Zombie B-Movies. These are usually on the SyFy Channel and if you miss them on there, they are the cheap duds you get for a few quid on DVD or On Demand. Then they get to the bottom of Netflix and Amazon Prime when you get really desperate for something to watch. Because they have such a bad reputation, I never thought I’d see a serious attempt at this genre.
But here we are with Overlord, a Nazi Zombie movie with actual money and effort put into it. A group of US soldiers are stuck in Occupied France when their plane crashes and are trying to avoid being caught by German forces. But they soon discover that the nearby church has something far worse than just Nazis. They have Nazi Zombies.
So how does the movie manage to get us to take a Nazi Zombie seriously? Well by sneaking in the fact it’s a Nazi Zombie movie. For the first 30 minutes, you’d have no clue that this had zombies in it. It seems like a fairly standard war movie about whether this band of brothers can get out of Occupied France alive. They are holed up in a house and the Germans are closing in due to their random inspections. For a while, I thought I had misremembered the trailers I saw for this. But then we get a glimpse at the French woman whose hiding the soldiers’ grandma and yep, there she is, all zombified and everything. And crucially, they are never called zombies. They are definitely zombies, they are reanimated bodies trying to kill the living, but the closest they get to a name is when a Nazi calls them the Reich’s 1000 year soldiers.
But crucially, is it any good? Yes, yes it is. This is still schlock and not that scary, but I doubt they intended it to be. After all, it’s a Nazi Zombie movie. You can do it more seriously but I don’t think anyone is ever going to be hiding behind the sofa at this sort of movie. But it does have some tense moments so I’ll give it that. Most of all though, this is a popcorn gore movie. You watch it not because you want to be scared but because you want to see a lot of blood and guts all over the screen. That’s not everyone’s thing and if it isn’t yours, there’s no point in watching. But if you are, you’ll have fun. You’ll appreciate that the vast majority of the gore is done on camera which makes it properly icky and tough to watch for a squeamish fellow like me. Gore movies have never worked in CGI so I hope this provokes a change back to doing things with models and various liquids made to look like blood.
Of course, the characters in the movie are pretty much non-existent, not that I expected them to be anything special. They are all one trait if they get that. Obviously, I’d have preferred if more development was given to the characters but I don’t think you come into this sort of movie expecting that. My major annoyance is that certain traits get forgotten about. The nearest to a lead is Boyce and the one thing we learn about him is that he struggles to kill things, with there even being an anecdote about him not being able to kill a mouse during training. This is never brought up again, even when Boyce has to kill one of the other soldiers when he becomes a zombie because yes that trope is here. It’s a bizarre thing to drop when it could at least add some extra tension to a couple of scenes.
Overlord is schlocky, it is gory, it is about Nazi Zombies in case I haven’t mentioned it yet. But it is also fun. It is fun in the way some of the old Lucio Fulci movies were, because they are so serious it allows you to have all the fun instead. This admittedly is a personal thing as I have started to get sick of movies which try to get in on the joke with you. So if you need a bit of gore to keep you entertained, this one should keep you entertained for a couple of hours.