‘Overlord’ gives war film genre a horror spin

Parker Otto

“Overlord,” released Nov. 9, creates a fantastic action experience with likeable characters and heart-pounding action.

By combining horror and war film genres, “Overlord” is a film unlike any other released this year. It follows a small group of paratroopers in World War II, whose mission is to blow up a radio tower in France on D-Day. They discover a Nazi laboratory with horrific creatures that are products of human experimentation. Allied with a French civilian, the soldiers must complete their mission and destroy the monsters.

The film has a deep sense of character with each of them being likeable and easy to identify as soldiers with personalities that stand out. The audience is able to grow attached to each character, which separates the good war stories from the bad. Filmmakers can show amazing action all they want, but if they don’t flesh out their characters, it’s hard for audiences to be invested, and this film is keenly aware of that.

The protagonist, Boyce, played by Jovan Adepo, acts as the average man of the story. He’s not a hardened soldier like his commander Corporal Ford, played by Wyatt Russell, but Boyce is instead a man who has two goals: Complete the mission, and stay alive.

Ford previously served in Italy and immediately takes over as an uncompromising leader who will do whatever it takes to beat the enemy. Each time he looks at someone, he has what 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket” calls the “thousand-yard stare,” displaying his extensive time as a soldier. However, he’s not solely some authoritative monster as he cares for his men and wants all of them to make it out alive.

Another standout is Mathilde Ollivier’s character, Chloe, a French civilian who joins the group to liberate her town. Ollivier makes an impression because of how determined her character acts and how much she is willing to do for her people. She is anything but a damsel in distress and manages to hold her own in a fight, most notably when she takes on one of the creatures and uses guns and a flamethrower.

The action sequences are visually stunning and intense. In the opening scene, the filmmakers use the tight space of a burning aircraft to their advantage, creating a tense atmosphere. When the men land and fight, they go guns blazing and mow them down like grass. One of the best action scenes is achieved when the men tape a grenade to a German soldier’s mouth, tie him to a motorcycle and fill the side car with explosives, resulting in a mobile living bomb. The resulting slaughter of the enemy is a glorious one fans of action will love.

The creatures in the film are terrifying because of how they looked both human and demonic. They move in an unsettling, jerky manner like their joints were stiff. They are creatively designed with some resembling humans brought back to life and others being disfigured with limbs missing. When the creatures interact with characters, it is always in small hallways, an example of how contained horror creating suspense.

“Overlord” is a fantastic film from both a horror and character standpoint, with plenty of action and a unique story that will stay with the viewer days after watching it. There are many World War II movies, but there is only one like “Overlord.”