As someone who isn’t much of a war film fan, I was apprehensive about Overlord. I often find war films quite repetitive in nature, and they’ve never really appealed to me. So when I was kindly invited to a press screening on behalf of JUMPCUT, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I tried not to set my expectations too high, but as a J.J. Abrams fan, I was interested to see what he’d brought to the table as a producer. Maybe a blend of war and horror is exactly what I needed.

Straight away, the thing that stood out to me was the quality of the sound, especially in a cinema setting. If you’re able to, I would absolutely recommend you catch Overlord on the big screen because of it. The film opens with soldiers on a plane, and the deafening booms of bombs combined with the roar of the plane really puts you right in the middle of the action. This sequence is one of the most immersive experiences I’ve ever had. You’re forced to witness the horrors of war straight off the bat and identify with the soldiers’ point of view. Later on in the film, this excellent use of sound really adds to the suspense and makes for a truly uncomfortable experience.

After loving Wyatt Russell in Black Mirror, I was looking forward to his performance in particular, but the whole cast really delivered. Each solider is believable, flawed, and different in their personality to the point where you feel like you’re there with them. The character development throughout is excellent, and no one feels two-dimensional or glossed over. This is one of the problems I have with war films, that sometimes everyone seems to blend into one group and no one is easily distinguishable. With Overlord, every character has both purpose and a personality; something I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters that the soldiers encounter along the way are treated exactly the same too, and it’s nice to see secondary characters being treated with respect.

If you’re a fan of gory special effects, this is one to watch for sure. When it finally becomes clear to us what’s going on, and dark secrets are revealed, it is a terrifying experience. It’s best you go into it not knowing any more than that, as it would be a shame to have it spoiled. What I can say, is that the effects are nightmare inducing and reminiscent of many body horror films. The rest you need to witness for yourself. I’ve seen my fair share of gruesome stuff, but this really stood out to me. Overlord deserves recognition for its visual effects alone, they are a welcome addition to the horror genre.

Overall, Overlord is a smart film that blends war and horror together effortlessly, resulting in a truly terrifying experience. I’m unsure how it’ll translate on my TV after experiencing it on such a large-scale, but I am certainly up for watching it again to see what it’s like. It’s a very entertaining couple of hours that are action-packed and gruesome throughout.

Rating: ★★★½

Directed by: Julius Avery
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbæk, John Magaro