‘Overlord’ is one of 2018’s biggest surprises

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“Overlord,” is a film from producer J.J. Abrams and director Julius Avery. An eclectic mixture of real-world history and macabre horror elements, the film stars Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek and John Magaro, amongst others.

Set the day before the Invasion of Normandy, a.k.a. D-Day, “Overlord” follows a platoon of soldiers who have been sent into France to disable a jamming tower set up by the Nazis in a small town. The plane is shot down by German forces, and only a small group of soldiers, including Private Ed Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) and Private Tibbet (John Magaro) survive.

The handful of troops makes their way to the town, where they hold up in the house of a French woman named Chloe (Mathilde Olivier).  Boyce is sent out to find a way into the church, only to discover an underground lab housing strange and bizarre experiments.

“Overlord” is a mad-scientist movie wrapped around a historical war drama. Imagine “Dunkirk” meets “Re-Animator,” and that’s the movie in a nutshell.

The film’s pacing is superb. At first, one wouldn’t assume this is a horror movie given how much it takes itself seriously and the time it focuses on fleshing out the characters, but as things progress, the audience is teased glimpses of what is to come through the horrific and graphic imagery shown throughout the underground lab.

Everyone in the cast is excellent, from Jovan Adepo as Boyce to Wyatt Russell as Ford.  The performances highlight how well “Overlord” manages to keep one foot in reality, without teetering too much into over-the-top craziness, at least until the finale.

“Overlord” is like a “Wolfenstein” video game, minus the “Wolfenstein” name.  Sure, there are vicious, mutated humans the main characters take on, but it’s all set against a historical backdrop, in this case, D-Day.  It plays off the real-life fascination Nazis had with the supernatural and science to create something that’s ridiculous but believable.

When the monsters do come into play, though, it’s a gory tour-de-force.  A majority of the film’s special effects are done practically with make-up and animatronics, and CGI only comes into play when necessary.  Although there are only a handful of creatures, “Overlord” makes the most of them quite well.

“Overlord” is 2018’s biggest surprise yet.  Unfortunately, it’s not doing well at the box office, as it opened in third place, earning $10 million on opening day.  However, this film has the strong likelihood of becoming a cult classic in the years to come.

“Overlord” is unique and enthralling.  It’s got the heroism of classic war movies and shows like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Band of Brothers” mixed with the campy horror of the likes of “Re-Animator” and “The Return of the Living Dead.”  It has blood and guts, but it never tips the scale of action and scares in either direction, resulting in a picture that satisfies from beginning to end.