First thing’s first: despite being produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, Overlord is not an entry in the Cloverfield franchise—though there are enough vestigial organs in the script to suggest that it may have been in an earlier draft.
The marketing for this so-called “Nazi zombie” flick left me feeling as though the studio had missed its ideal release window: dropping a horror film in early November—rather than mid-October, when Halloween spirit reaches its pinnacle—seemed like a rather egregious miscalculation. Having seen the finished product, however, I can understand the logic behind opening on Veterans Day weekend: from the harrowing sequence in which our heroes parachute into France amidst the flaming wreckage of their air support to the explosive climax, Overlord is, above all else, a war movie primarily concerned with immersing the viewer in the experience of being a soldier stranded in hostile territory. The more overtly supernatural/sci-fi elements represent a mid-narrative genre shift akin to Predator or From Dusk Till Dawn—and even then, they remain secondary to the morality play that unfolds as our protagonists become increasingly brutal in their efforts to accomplish their mission. Indeed, at the risk of sounding pretentious, the undead monsters may simply be a metaphor for how hatred can pervert the noblest of intentions into indiscriminate savagery. After all, what value does victory hold if the “good guys” achieve it by committing as many atrocities as their vanquished foes?
[Originally written November 12, 2018.]