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Overlord is a Nazi zombie B-movie with a slight difference

Have you heard? Nazis are bad. It seems that some people need reminding, and thus we have Overlord, a gruelly, gory, video-gamey gonzo B-movie of meathooks, knuckle dusters, Dr Mengele villainy, and a litany of impalements. It’s a film, in other words, about Nazi zombies. No, it’s not the first of those, though this one is actually set during World War Two (a rarity for the sub-genre) and takes its name from the codename for D-Day.

It follows Jovan Adepo (Fences) as Private Boyce, an American soldier dropping into France the night before the invasion, tasked with blowing up an SS-controlled radio tower. Underneath the mast, as we shall soon discover, is a lair of evil, ruled by the campy local Nazi commander Wafner (Pilou Asbæk, who honed his screen villainy as Euron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones). He will gradually lose bits of his face but keep lumbering on in his bid for a thousand-year Reich.

Macro alias: ModuleRenderer

The opening aboard the troop plane under fire is impressively chaotic, as is the rest of the violence, notable for its punishing gore. Gunfights sound like thunderstorms, or something from a mid-80s Schwarzenegger romp. Of course, as a B-movie, Overlord is full of clichés: there’s at least two direct visual quotes from Saving Private Ryan, and mysterious Frenchwoman Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier) put me in mind of Michelle “Listen very carefully” Dubois from ‘Allo ‘Allo. And there’s something implicitly funny, or at least absurd, in the idea that zombie Nazis are scarier than actual Nazis. Isn’t Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah the most horrifying film ever made, after all? Overlord nevertheless offers a sort of cheap, dumb, enjoyable catharsis.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★1/2

Video: Paramount Pictures