Some recurring moments in movies will never get old. There’s a certain thrill from watching a superhero swoop in at the last second to save a life, a Disney character sing an impossibly high note, or two long-lost lovers finally get together. But none of those compares to the greatest joy in cinema: seeing Nazis bite the dust in new, inventive, and sometimes painful, ways.
Produced by J.J. Abrams -- but not, as initially rumored, part of his Cloverfield franchise -- and directed by Julius Avery, the World War II horror film Overlord delivers a heaping helping of creative Nazi deaths, a spectacle that eclipses any of its flaws.
Jovan Adepo stars as Boyce, an untested paratrooper whose platoon is ordered on the eve of D-Day to parachute behind enemy lines in German-occupied France. Alongside him are the hilarious John Magaro, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-star Iain De Caestecker, and team leader Wyatt Russell. In a tense, jaw-dropping opening sequence, the plane is bombarded by bullets and explosions, forcing the team to jump early, and only a few soldiers survive. Their mission is to destroy a German radio tower outside of Normandy, but when the soldiers reach their target, they discover it hides a dark secret.
They team with a French villager, played by Mathilde Ollivier, to launch an undercover assault on the tower, which is built on an old church. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know that, in this secret base, the Nazis are performing human experiments, creating twisted creatures. It’s the same premise as dozens of other stories, including countless Captain America comics and the Wolfenstein video games, yet a great cast and a sense of fun keep manage to keep it engaging throughout the 110-minute runtime.
The first glimpses into the hell of the Nazi laboratories are the film’s most shocking moment. Go in as blind as possible — the surprise of seeing everything Avery’s twisted mind has conjured is half the experience. The moment is handled surprisingly well, despite signaling a stark tone shift. It never veers into the mean-spirited, using these torturous experiments to build up the Nazis as a special kind of evil rather than to celebrate the grotesque.