Film review: Overlord an excessively gory horror thriller set on eve of D-day landings

Jovan Adepo and Dominic Applewhite in Overlord
Damon Smith

DIRECTOR Julius Avery gleefully rewrites history in the excessively gory horror thriller Overlord, which unfolds on the eve of the Normandy landings.

A bloodthirsty script penned by Billy Ray and Mark L Smith adopts a black and white approach to characterisation – Germans bad, everyone else good – to justify a barrage of brutality towards pantomime villains in Nazi uniforms.

The violence is relentless, drawing inspiration from the Outpost and Dead Snow horror franchises and the first-person Wolfenstein videogames to imagine a battle royale between plucky US paratroopers and sadistic Germans, who are conducting diabolical experiments in the catacombs of a church.

There are flickers of touching human drama beneath the glistening entrails but Avery's primary concern is delivering a visual sucker punch.

He achieves a knockout blow with a tour-de-force opening sequence of US paratroopers preparing to descend into enemy territory.

Bullets scythe through the plane's fuselage, an engine explodes, young soldiers are sucked into a fiery inferno as the lucky few with parachutes manage to leap into darkness thick with artillery fire and hot twisted metal.

It's a virtuoso sequence of handheld camerawork and dizzying special effects that leaves us breathless.

The Allies are poised to send in boats laden with troops to the beaches of France but first they must destroy a German radio tower, which has been erected on the roof of a church on the outskirts of occupied Normandy.

Explosives expert Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) will lead the daredevil mission.

"If you keep worrying about dead bodies, you're going to be one," he growls at privates Boyce (Jovan Adepo), Chase (Iain De Caestecker), Grady (Jacob Anderson), Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite) and Tibbet (John Magano).

After the parachute drop from hell, the men head towards a village surrounding the church, where they are aided by kind local Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who has a little brother Paul (Gianny Taufer) and a sickly, mute aunt (Eva Magyar) upstairs in a bedroom.

"She hasn't spoken since I got her back from the church," ominously confides Chloe.

Corporal Ford and his men learn that the Germans, led by sadistic officer Wafner (Pilou Asbaek), are fashioning super-soldiers, who could change the course of the conflict.

The scope of the mission must expand to neutralise this horrific threat but time is of the essence because the Normandy landings must proceed on schedule.

Overlord doesn't stint on the slaughter while Adepo and Russell salute the courage of young men in the firing line with their well-calibrated performances.

Gore hounds will howl with delight as heads splatter, bones jut through torn flesh and various sharp objects are ripped from torsos.

OVERLORD (18, 110 mins) Horror/Thriller/Action/Romance. Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek, Iain De Caestecker, Jacob Anderson, Dominic Applewhite, John Magano, Gianny Taufer, Eva Magyar. Director: Julius Avery

RATING: 6/10

Released: November 7 (UK & Ireland)

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