Overlord, directed by Julius Avery, has an interesting premise, a setting that’s always rich for compelling stories and an opening scene that had me feeling really positive about the journey I was about to set out on. And so, even with all that, it’s a real shame that Overlord doesn’t take advantage of any of them and instead embarks on a meandering, boring experience that never amounts to anything memorable or interesting and slowly but surely devolved into a film that struggled to hold my attention for any significant amount of time. Where is it Overlord goes so wrong? Is there anything that maybe makes it worth your time? Well, let’s explore all that Overlord has to offer and see if there’s anything to it that can salvage what is mostly a forgettable film.
Private Boyce – played by Jovan Adepo – and his squad are parachuting in behind enemy lines in the lead up to D-Day. It is their mission to destroy a Nazi radio tower and allow air support to get in and support the advancing allied forces. That may be what their mission is in the beginning, but after they discover a secret Nazi lab where they are conducting heinous experiments involving the local towns people and utilising a mysterious liquid to do so; it becomes a necessity that they wipe it from existence and not allow anyone to get their hands on what is in that lab.
I didn’t have the highest of expectations when walking into Overlord, but I made sure I kept an open mind. Plus, I was hopeful I’d get some decent horror moments and some fun action. In the film’s very first scene I was completely in with the journey I was about to set out on. I thought it did a decent enough job of establishing the characters (though they were a little cliché) and the structure of the scene, coupled with the sound design, score and visual effects all had me pleasantly surprised and hopeful that the rest of the film would follow this sort of pace and excitement. But as you can probably guess from the tone of my introduction, Overlord then isn’t able to continue any of what made the first scene so thrilling.
Once the soldiers are on the ground and rallying together to complete their mission, the film slows down significantly; meanders around for far too long, and slowly overlooks or completely abandons anything that could have possibly made it enjoyable.
With Overlord there are two major issues that I think make the film a failure: the plot wastes the fun potential it has by having the characters stay stagnant in one location for two long, and the characters themselves are stagnated in their development. I want to tackle these two points mainly in my review, as I think exploring and dissecting them gives the best picture as to why I didn’t enjoy my time with the film, and why it didn’t succeed as a compelling, enjoyable watch.
Let’ look at the plot which as I’ve already said: wastes the opportunities its plot offers. Where the plot went so wrong for me was in what it focused upon. Much of Overlord surprisingly and unfortunately takes place in a house (an attic to be more precise) and it was in that house that the film lost all steam and any of my interest. Rather than the spooky confines of a Nazi lab or the dark dangers of the surrounding forest, our characters spend the majority of their time arguing about what their next move should be, or torturing a Nazi officer, and while that was happening, I was waiting and hoping for something interesting to happen.
When they do finally infiltrate the base, it was sadly too late for me to care (an emotional response that was influenced by a number of factors, which I’ll touch upon in a moment) and it’s also extremely underwhelming. Instead of some good scares or unsettling imagery, it’s a slew of cheap, boring jump scares and rooms filled with nothing memorable or disturbing – there is some decent horror make-up used, but it’s soon pushed aside for some wonky looking CGI and bland monster design. There was such potential to have a schlocky but fun horror movie set in a Nazi lab full of creatures and American soldiers, who were way out of their depth, but there’s none of that. There’s just one monotonous scene after another.
The film also makes no effort to explore the mysteries of its plot. What did the Nazi’s find? What is it about the strange liquid that causes such a violent and transformative reaction to human test subjects? There are many questions about the horrors being conducted in the lab and no hint of answers or even simple explanations. Much like everything else in the film, there’s no real attempt to offer anything interesting or unsettling. There was the possibility to have such fun with the concept the film had at its disposal and really dive into a schlocky b-movie horror plot, but instead it goes down the route of nothing rather than something.
What really doesn’t help the empty monotony of the plot is the lack of competent character development. It’s an assortment of clichés with the characters; all slipping into the necessary roles and not having within them anything unique or interesting. There is an attempt with some of the characters to have an arc – one that would hopefully result in a satisfying moment for both the character and us the audience later on – but the sloppy, inconsistent handling of the characters sees that never being the case. There are certainly completions of some of the character arcs, but they’re never earned and don’t have the desired effect when watching them. It all resulted in a group of characters standing around in a house that I didn’t care about, and so when it came time where danger and death was creeping towards them, I had no care within me for their wellbeing.
The unfortunate truth with Overlord is that I was bored from very early on in the film, and that boredom never subsided. When I initially heard this was going to be a film in the ‘Cloverfield’ franchise, I was pretty excited at what potential stories that could offer. Then when I heard it wasn’t, my excitement for the film certainly diminished, but like I said in the beginning: I walked into this film hopeful of something good. Now I have to wonder if this film would have benefited from a little inclusion of the Cloverfield sauce. I know it doesn’t always work out when you slap ‘Cloverfield’ in the title and force some scenes in – just look at The Cloverfield Paradox as a perfect example of that – but I still wonder if it might have added a little something that at least might have helped salvage the plot.
I never enjoy being overly negative about a film – I cherish films and always want them to be good and for me to enjoy them – but Overlord simply isn’t a good film. There’s nothing exciting within it. There’s nothing memorable; no scene stands out as something my mind wants to jump back to and re-experience. Overlord simply doesn’t do anything that made me feel like my time wasn’t completely wasted.
And with that last point in particular, I DO NOT recommend, Overlord. There’s nothing left to say at this point other than you should probably give this one a miss. I can’t see any reason why you might enjoy this film or not feel your time watching it was a waste.
If you have unfortunately seen Overlord, what did you think of it, and what did you think of my review of it? Let me know in the comments section down below. Also, it would be great if you would consider following both my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – and help me to grow my little slice of the internet into something more. Anyway, I’ll bring things to a close now by offering you my sincere thanks. Thank you so much for coming and reading my review, it means so much to me. Have a fantastic day and I hope to see you return!