Skip to content

Overlord offers little more than an exciting gimmick

J.J. Abrams produces this hybrid of horror and war genres, which may be exciting at times but is ultimately a shallow bloodfest.

By Joanne Yang, Third Year, Social Policy and Politics

J.J. Abrams produces this hybrid of horror and war genres, which may be exciting at times but is ultimately a shallow bloodfest.

Despite the rumours before its release, Overlord isn’t one of J.J.Abrams’ Cloverfield projects. Produced by Abrams but directed by Julius Avery, the film begins a war movie with four American soldiers sent behind enemy lines in France to complete a mission. Though it is not a monster-sci-fi film, it achieves its goal of pumping up your adrenaline and gives you the sense of tension and scare you don’t really expect when watching its war-based opening.

IMDb / Overlord / Bad Robot

2018 seems to be the year for horrors and thrillers. It feels like there has been a horror film each month these past 11 months. Audiences have seen all kinds of horror films so far, including conventional ones such as Insidious: Last Key (2018) and The Nun (2018), and the not so conventional ones such as Ghost Stories (2017) and The Haunting of the Hill House (2018) series on Netflix - read our review for that here. War movies were the vogue in 2017, with movies such as Dunkirk (2017) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016).

Therefore, it is obvious that directors and screenwriters are always trying to explore genre conventions and figure out new ways to surprise the audience and stand out from other horror or war flicks. However, directors such as James Wan and Mike Flanagan have already exploited the genre. Their past films have experimented with methods of scaring viewers, with very little space left for others to create something fresh and unpredictable in the genre.

Hence, filmmakers are now trying other tactics to differentiate themselves. Before the release of their films, many try to create rumours and selling points. In the film they continue to think outside the box. Some films merge different genres to produce a surprising and unconventional movie, not seen in anywhere else.

Overlord is one of these hybrid films. It seems a typical war film at first with plenty of bombing, parachuting, and gunfights. After landing and cooperating with the French villagers, you would normally expect a few days hiding and, eventually, a large scale gun fight with German troops in a typical war movie plot.

However, Avery inverts expectations by suddenly flipping the film into a horror. Boyce (Jovan Adepo), the protagonist of the film, enters a German laboratory, where tortured victims are ever present, waiting to scare you from every corner of the place. Then at the end of the film, it becomes a fully blown zombie apocalypse with the undead fighting against each other.

Youtube / Movieclips Trailers

Overlord enjoys some success because it is very hard to find a film this unpredictable boring. It maintains tension throughout and consistently blows your mind with narrative choices. Avery and his filmmaking team acknowledge the points each genre starts becoming boring, and switch it up at the right time to keep you excited throughout.

However, the major problem with the film is that the narrative is lacking. It focuses too much on horrifying the audience that it forgets to produce a proper storyline and character building. There are a handful of American soldiers in the squad but the only memorable and recognisable character is captain and protagonist Boyce. The rest blur into one unless you are familiar with the actors, because no unique qualities are developed within their personalities. Hence it proves difficult to care for them, or even to be emotionally touched by anything they go through. No significant story is told in this film, only endless blood, gun violence and killing.

IMDb / Overlord / Bad Robot

Overlord is a fun film to watch and worth a trip to the cinema for that. There is excitement in the ever-changing genre conventions, but, once the gimmick has passed, it is a film you will not rush back to watch again.

Featured Image: IMDb / Overlord / Bad Robot

Does Overlord remind you of playing Nazi Zombies on Call of Duty: World at War?

Facebook // Epigram Film & TV // Twitter