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Overlord Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Paramount Home Entertainment

overlord poster large

Directed by Julius Avery
Written by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith
2018, 110 minutes, Rated 118
DVD released on 11th March 2019

Jovan Adepo as Boyce
Wyatt Russell as Ford
Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe
Pilou Asbæk as Wafner


Fans of massacring hordes of Nazi zombies may have to wait a while for their Castle Wolfenstein adaptation, but director Julius Avery has got you covered. Trapped behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day, a team of American paratroopers encounter a series of supernatural terrors which make The Red Skull look like Little Red Riding Hood. It’s Castle Wolfenstein meets... uh, also Castle Wolfenstein. Overlord is the greatest videogame adaptation never made.

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The Wolfenstein comparison is the easiest, most obvious sell, but Overlord is so much more than that besides, from its astonishingly effective opening sequence onwards. Like the best genre mash-ups, it’s entirely functional on its own merits as a World War II action film, following a group of squaddies on their mission behind enemy lines. The characters are familiar archetypes – likeable, sympathetic, plausibly tough basterds in an unenviable position. Boyce is the pacifist with the nervous trigger finger, Ford his hard-ass commanding officer with a dimpled chin. Pilou Asbæk, meanwhile, is brilliantly slimy as the film’s primary villain, giving the Nazi zombie apocalypse its human face to punch.

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A classic World War II men-on-a-mission film with an extreme genre twist, Overlord is perhaps the best wartime horror film since the extremely underrated Deathwatch. It manages to be grim without being depressing, and its action and horror beats satisfy without feeling disrespectful to the very real horrors of World War II. A cross between Re-Animator and Event Horizon – with a bit of Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge thrown in for good measure – it delivers gritty, grotesque balls-to-the-wall horror action from start to finish, with barely a moment’s room to breathe.

This inevitably gets a little exhausting after a while, and the film’s near two-hour runtime combined with its choppy structure and pacing means that there are some storytelling deficiencies here and there. More than a couple of the characters feel unnecessary or tacked-on (Mathilde Ollvier seems to be there just to have a ‘woman’ character) but the performances are strong enough, and Avery barely pauses to give one time to ruminate on its flaws.

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In fact, the breakneck pace and constant action sometimes tend to get in the way of the horror, and, like many horror/action hybrids, the film favours the latter so much that it rarely feels as scary as it should. In this respect, it’s exactly what many would expect a cinematic Castle Wolfenstein adaptation to feel like.

Overlord is a thrilling combination of war film and action movie, with sumptuous Gothic horror visuals. Its use of gore and violence is shocking, ghastly and, yes, sometimes very satisfying, its action bona fides very real. Not only is Overlord the greatest videogame adaptation never made, it’s also a highlight of its own genre, and one of the best action slash horror movies in years.


Movie: fourstars Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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