How ‘Overlord’ Mixes Horror And War

October 19th, 2018How ‘Overlord’ Mixes Horror And War

Imagine you and a bunch of other people you’ve only recently met are in a plane high above foreign territory. There are loads of other friendly planes around, which is good. But you’re all being shot at by Nazis, which is bad. But at least that means there are a whole bunch of Nazis to stomp, and if history has taught us anything, that’s good.

That’s how Overlord begins. Then, the latest movie from J.J. Abrams’s company Bad Robot, opening on November 9, goes on to become a lot more horrifying. This story folds fictional horrors about experimental super-soldiers into the very real horrors of actual warfare, creating an augmented reality version of World War II.

Get tickets for Overlord now, and read on to get a sense of how the movie combines two of our favorite film genres.

A Desperate Invasion

[Credit: Paramount Pictures]

Jovan Adepo and Wyatt Russell play American soldiers, along with Jacob Anderson, Iain De Caestecker, John Magaro, and Bokeem Woodbine. They’re paratroopers hurtling towards France in the hours before D-Day. All they have to do upon reaching their target is take out a little radio tower atop a German-held fortress. Easy, right?

Maybe, but first they even have to get there. Overlord doesn’t mess around with showing the true terrors of war. As the squad’s plane approaches their drop point, bullets rip through the fuselage. Explosions go off, men are screaming, its bad. We mean bad for the characters, at least. For the audience, the scene is ripping and exciting — it’s an incredible opening.

Fog Of War

[Credit: Paramount Pictures]

Don’t worry; we’re not going to tell you what happens next. But Overlord steadily explores more ways in which war and horror are directly connected. There’s the fear of trying to survive a frantic combat environment. Characters are stranded alone in a strange land, without much idea of where to go next.

Director Julius Avery finds some grotesque images in these ideas, with nasty portraits of slain GIs entwined in the French landscape. Add in the threat of being shot by enemy soldiers, and there are plenty of potent scares to explore.

True Monsters

[Credit: Paramount Pictures]

And that’s not even the worst of it. See, one of the bad guys is a doctor who has found a way to surpass death. Or so it seems. In truth he’s found a way to create twisted, nightmare humans who straddle the line between life and death. And not in a “sexy vampire” sort of way.

Once the Nazi monsters start roaming around, Overlord takes a turn into new territory. Imagine a live-action adaptation of the Wolfenstein games and you’re on the right track. These soldiers we’ve come to admire creep through halls, staking and being chased by these former humans. The metaphor is pretty clear, and since the movie’s bad guys are very defiantly, viciously bad to begin with, turning some into literal monsters seems like a natural step.

And don’t forget, even as the weirder aspects of the story creep in, the heroes still have to accomplish their primary task. The way never goes away, even when it gets really weird. Maybe that’s the real lesson of Overlord —  the only way to truly win is to keep your eye on the main goal.

Tickets are on sale now for Overlord, which opens on November 9!

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