Cinematic Releases: The Only Good Nazi is an Undead Nazi: Overlord (2018) - Reviewed

I have a soft spot for genre films because they tend to explore interesting concepts and can be insanely creative due to them often having budgetary constraints. Overlord (2018) is a great example of a mid-budget schlocky film that's not attempting to be a masterpiece--it's just trying to entertain the audience. The film takes place during WWII on the night before D-Day and a group of soldiers have to take out a German radio tower in a village outside of Normandy. However, the soldiers find out there are some nefarious experiments being conducted on the local townspeople by an evil Nazi scientist and the shit hits the fan fairly quickly.

The writing is the weakest aspect of the film and all the characters for the most part are two-dimensional archetypes. It's not bad as much as it's painfully cliche, and it hurts the first act of the film. Overlord opens with an exciting and bombastic plane sequence but this is quickly followed by boring character interaction. Luckily, the pace picks up, and the narrative has constant forward motion and action after this point. 

Fans of the Wolfenstein video game franchise will find a lot to love about the aesthetic of this film. Its desaturated color grading and gritty atmosphere mixes well with the horror elements and it gives it a comic book feel. While the film isn't in the alternate history genre like the newer Wolfenstein games, it plays around with some of the same tropes like Nazi experimentation and the concept of the √úbermensch or "super human". While the film isn't really trying to say anything about any of these concepts on a deeper level, there are a few good character moments scattered here and there, particularly with the protagonist Pvt. Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and his aversion to torture even when it's being applied to one of his enemies. Boyce is the most developed character and his sense of morality is strong.

The cinematography and music are both well done and compliment the film. Overlord is surprisingly gory with a lot of body horror and violence. The gore effects are pretty good, but there is more digital blood and guts than I would like though there are couple excellent set-pieces-- in particular the dark and frightening Nazi lab. These sequences are akin to a fun-house ride with the characters running from one scary situation to another and it's quite effective.

While both zombie movies and WWII period films are overdone, Overlord still manages to have some fun left in it even though it doesn't attempt to subvert any of the tropes inherent in either one of those genres.

--Michelle Kisner