Plunged into gritty action from the outset of the film, viewers of J.J. Abrams’ new release, Overlord, are immediately presented with a war-torn panorama of the largest seaborne invasion in history. The action opens with an introduction to the American paratroopers whose journey we follow as they parachute beyond enemy lines in order to destroy a highly fortified radio tower. This opening in media res introduces the stark battle zone that backdrops this zombie narrative. Alongside this, impressive aerial views of the invading forces and monumental explosions instantly set the violent tone for this action-horror fusion that promises plenty of CGI effects that leave little to be desired.
Special effects in this blockbuster are however not solely utilised for the sake of your generic war explosives; the zombies themselves are not lacking in wow-factor. This is truly demonstrated by the zombifying mutation of Chase, a deceased paratrooper. His transformation and consequent pulverisation at the hands of protagonist, Boyce, is certainly not one to watch for those who can’t handle a fair amount of gore.
“For those expecting the film to climax in a mass zombie-killing spree, prepare for disappointment”
This intense bloodshed, as well as the aura of foreboding that is noticeable throughout the film, undoubtedly place it firmly within the zombie genre, boasting scenes taken almost directly out of Frankenstein’s laboratory. Viewers are able to follow our protagonist Boyce (Jovan Adepo) as he nervously creeps around the dark, dingy rooms of the German-occupied tower and is confronted with life support machines attached to body bags, disembodied organs and an ominous gurgling emanating from locked rooms. Bearing this in mind, the lack of human-zombie combat in the culmination of the film is disappointing for the audience. For those expecting the film to climax in a mass zombie-killing spree, prepare for disappointment. In fact, very few of these ‘thousand-year soldiers’ make a combative appearance in the denouement of the plot, their defeat instead arising from a singular explosion which conveniently, and simultaneously, concludes the initial mission.
It is, therefore, not possible to give a completely positive review of this sketchy plot line, which seems to trivialise what is initially described as a dire and desperate mission in preparation for D-Day. Boyce and his military comrades occupy a large section of the film chatting idly and engaging in an undeveloped romantic sub-plot prior to finally getting on with their mission. Moreover, their ease in penetrating and also escaping from the walls of a highly fortified base in the throes of a world war is not particularly easy to believe. The lack of build-up, alongside the simple resolution might leave you feeling that Dr Wafner’s zombies who ‘have been given a purpose’ give the film itself very little purpose.