Overlord is a film where if you’ve bought into the concept a bit too much, you will be disappointed.
It’s a film where it sells you on an 18-rated film that promises war, gore, and even Nazi-made zombies, but barely buys into the genre-shift enough to really enjoy it.
On paper, it works. Billy Ray’s story brings together two brilliant cinematic ideas that are rich in the world of video games and are no-brainers for the world of cinema, but the chocolate-meets-peanut recipe isn’t quite perfected here.
Julius Avery’s direction does work for what you do see, though. He creates a competent war movie, even if the scale of it feels very small (even if the hook of it is blowing up a communication tower to open the gateway for all of D-Day). It is brutal and visceral in the first act, giving us the horror and random fate war gives.
For a war film, it nails that vibe throughout, even if it does feel way too familiar. It is weird that when it finally gets to the switch in tone, it feels like it starts to hold back.
There’s a feeling of unfortunate restraint with Overlord. You can’t help but want a From Dusk till Dawn, but you’re never going to get it.
In that movie you get two very strong genre voices with a perfect genre flip that leads to such a brilliant B-movie feel. It’s hard to separate the feeling of From Dusk till Dawn to the constant tease of Overlord.
It just feels too packed and top-heavy. It could have easily been a man on a mission movie turned survival horror, and even when you feel like you get a crescendo, it’s far too late.
Overlord doesn’t feel exciting or drastically different enough to truly recommend. For every great beat of it you feel the echo of an even better film. For every idea you have of what happens next you get the off-brand version of it. It holds you through the runtime but you’re never really excited. You’re never on edge at the rise of the film like you are when anything could happen at the very beginning. Overlord becomes too safe for too long, wasting so much potential in becoming your next favourite midnight movie.
It’s a shame, but if you still feel you have an itch to scratch, don’t worry. There’s a ton of other movies to check out. And games.
But really...just watch From Dusk till Dawn and remember how much of a masterclass that movie is.