As a cult subgenre, Nazi zombie films have their own conventions and cliches to follow. Producer JJ Abram’s Overlord works because it does them so well.
It’s the night before D-Day, and a plane of US paratroopers ready to jump into France is shot down. The survivors discover a secret Nazi laboratory where French prisoners and corpses are subjected to bizarre experiments designed to turn them into superhuman soldiers.
There aren’t exactly hordes of these zombie-mutants—but they’re so grotesque and terrifying that there doesn’t need to be.
All the other hallmarks are there too.
There’s the sadistic Nazi scientist, the goose stepping German officer, the grizzled US veteran, the tough-talking trooper, the green private straight out of boot camp. And of course there’s blood and guts in abundance, and so many moments to make you jump that you start to anticipate them.
A more recent action cliche—the moral dilemma about war, brutality and the greater good—also features. Typically our hero, Jovan Adepo’s private Boyce, balks at the methods of his mates. It’s familiar stuff for current action movies. In more thoughtful films it’s meant to prick the viewer’s conscience with a mild rebuke then soothe it with a happy resolution.
But here it’s basically just a threadbare character arc.
Like the genre, the real point of this film is the gratuitous, over the top violence.
Knowingly ridiculous and done with humour, it can make you cringe, groan and laugh all at once.
Most of this involves Nazis getting impaled, dismembered or blown up in various ways. But there’s plenty of shooting to fill the gaps in between—and the kind of fistfights where every punch is as loud as a gunshot.
It’s great fun.
On general release from 9 November