Abrams-produced ‘Overlord’ thrills
A few days before D-Day American paratroopers prepare to hit a radio transmitter at a church tower. They anticipate gun fire, grenades, and shrapnel; the team discovers a German experimental secret.
Producer J.J. Abrams teams with director Julius Avery for a tense action thriller accented by near exclusive dark of night scenes in which candles, car lights or flashlights point significant events, leaving the remainder of the frame for potential jump scares or surprise introductions.
Thoughtfully, the filmmakers have limited the scope to this one village and hints of the surrounding woodlands.
“Overlord” has a “Dirty Dozen, ” “Saving Private Ryan” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” splatter mortality. The air troops does not face hundreds or thousands, the story wisely limits the geographic landscape. No one calls in troops from nearby. It’s like a World War II “And Then There Were…”
The steady, crisp, step-on-a-nail pace involves choice of confrontations with explosive potential. In one of the best, a headstrong young French woman, Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who is harboring her brother Paul (Gianny Taufer) and sick aunt, freezes when the German commander sees a rubber ball roll down the steps. With Americans hiding above, the Germans search for the source of the bouncing ball – her 8-year-old brother wanting to play catch from the attic.
Establishing characters and situations in a home near enemy soldiers, director Avery skillfully and slowly relies on the best of producer Abrams’ twists to introduce the walking dead experiments of the Nazis in the church basement.
When the zombies enter, they don’t overwhelm the village. “Overlord” punctuates and galvanizes its audience as the Americans, Germans, zombies and female villagers scrounge for plans to take down those picking random victims to become the next monsters.
Integrating revisionist zombie experimental history into World War II has strong symbolism and the cruelty foretells the gas chamber atrocities.
Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for HuntingtonNews.net and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.