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Film / Overlord (2018)
aka: Overlord

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"A thousand-year Reich, needs thousand-year soldiers."

Overlord is a 2018 WWII action-supernatural-horror movie from Paramount Pictures, produced by J. J. Abrams and directed by Julius Avery.

June 6, 1944. D-Day, Operation Overlord

That was when Allied forces invaded Normandy and liberated West Europe from the choking grip of Nazi Germany. But on the night before that, a group of paratroopers was tasked to infiltrate enemy lines and bring down a radio tower.

What they end up finding down there is something much more sinister, much more horrifying, and much more mind-boggling than any single one of them could possibly imagine.

Official Trailer.

Not to be confused with a completely different film, Overlord (1975), or with any other work named after Operation Overlord.



  • Action Girl: Chloe, in the climax.
  • Adult Fear: All thanks to young Paul being a fairly wide-eyed, innocent little kid living in a Nazi-occupied village where horrific science experiments are taking place. The fear gets cranked up when he's taken hostage by Wafner and the next time we see him is him strapped to a lab table, meaning Schmidt was definitely planning to do some terrible things to the poor kid.
  • All There in the Manual: Rosenfeld's first name (Jacob) and Boyce's first name (Edward) are revealed in the film proper, but Dawson's, (Charlie) Tibbet's, (Lyle) Chase's, (Morton) and Ford's (Lewis) are not.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: While Rosenfeld is confirmed through his dialogue to be Jewish, Tibbet has a thick New York accent and is played by a Jewish actor, but his religion doesn't get brought up.
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  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: The opening and closing credits tracks are jarringly modern hip hop in contrast to the excellent and period-appropriate score.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the film, the three surviving soldiers are reassigned to another company as the war goes on.
  • Arc Words: "This is the job."
  • Artistic License – History: The US Armed Forces were segregated during World War II, and African-American soldiers fought in all-black units like the Tuskegee Airmen or the 761st Tank Battalion. This means that Boyce and Dawson, who are both black, would very much not be in an Airborne unit in Europe, and Dawson certainly wouldn't be leading a combat jump over Normandy. There was only one regiment of black paratroopers during the war, the 555th Parachute Infantry, who were barred from combat and instead spent the war fighting forest fires sparked by Japanese balloon bombs in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Attempted Rape: If being an SS officer wasn't enough of a tip that Wafner is a nasty piece of work, his first real onscreen action is threatening to have Paul sent to the church if Chloe doesn't have sex with him. Boyce stops him, but it's heavily implied he's been more successful in the past.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Corporal Ford, the leader of the paratrooper squad. He always maintains his composure even when the others panic and racks up a huge body count of German soldiers with his trusty carbine. Probably his best feat is pulling himself off of a meat hook he's trapped on despite the grueling pain, injecting himself with some Super Serum, and taking on the super-powered Big Bad in hand-to-hand combat... before killing him plus all the other test subjects with bunch of C4 in a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Captain Wafner, the German SS commander, is also quite badass. He has Nerves of Steel, not breaking under extensive injury and torture, and stages his own escape by playing dead and ambushing one of his captors, killing him with his own gun. When that escape attempt fails, he stages another, successful one, firing at the Americans while running behind his men and managing to get back to base with several bullets in him. Then he injects himself with serum, granting him Super Strength and a Healing Factor.
  • Ax-Crazy: Wafner becomes even more insane after injecting himself with the serum. In fact, his Sanity Slippage comes hand in hand with him becoming more and more injured, as if it’s healing power works on being Cast From Sanity.
  • Badass Normal: The main characters, given that they end up facing a rogue Nazi Super Soldier project. Special mention goes to Boyce, who beat a corrupted/enhanced Morton Chase to death with a rifle butt, after he shrugged off multiple pistol rounds to the torso and tossed a guy through a wall.
  • Big Bad: Captain Wafner, an SS-Hauptsturmführer, commander of the troops in the village, and the highest ranking enemy officer the main characters meet.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's a good amount of unsubtitled French and German.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Not counting the many casualties of the initial attack on the planes, the first two named characters to die are Rensin and Dawson. Offset by the protagonist also being black, and surviving.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Than any other movie from J.J. Abrams or Bad Robot Productions.
  • Body Horror: There's a lot of it in this movie. Nazis + human experimentation + figuring out the secret to still be alive even when a big chunk of your face is blown off = this.
  • Book-Ends: The first and final scene has Tibbet miming shooting his rifle and saying "Pow!"
  • Brooklyn Rage: Tibbet has a thick New York accent and is the most hot-headed of the group.
  • Came Back Wrong: To a greater extent than usual in zombie films, as Ford explicitly tells Boyce that Chase died the moment his heart stopped beating even if the serum brought him back to life physically. In general, this seems to be the case with those injected with the serum. As injuries pile up, the immense power needed to keep them moving takes a toll on their sanity until, as in the case of Wafner, they are nothing more than snarling beasts.
  • Cast From Sanity: A non-video game example. Evidence during the film shows that as someone who has been injected with the serum is progressively injured, their Healing Factor causes them to regress to a mindless beast, as seen in the cases of Chase and Wafner.
  • Character Development:
    • Ford's primary characterization in the film is as a hardass soldier who reminds his men that they have a job to do, and whatever the Nazis are doing under the church has nothing to do with their mission. When it comes for him to die, Ford has recognized the horrors of what's going on and orders Boyce to not let anyone, not even their own side, have the power of the black tar.
    • Boyce is a timid and rather incompetent soldier at the beginning of the film. He retains his high morals but becomes a more daring and capable soldier as the film progresses.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The flamethrowers.
    • The serum.
    • Wafner's lighter.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Not that Wafner didn't deserve it. He returns the favor on Ford later.
  • Collapsing Lair: Boyce's escape from the lab and the church at the end of the movie.
  • Consummate Professional: Sergeant Rensin, who stays clearheaded even after probably half of his damn unit get their tickets punched before they're even given the green light.
    Rensin: This is why we're here! This is the job!
  • Cowardly Lion: Boyce is the subject of many taunts and insults due to his perceived cowardice and unwillingness to take a life. It doesn't change the fact that he's in the field and fighting alongside other soldiers, but is more concerned with saving lives than taking them.
  • Darker and Edgier: J.J. Abrams has gone on record to say the movie will be as insane as "batshit." And the trailer makes it crystal clear:
    "This fall, experience chaos, fear, insanity, havoc, horror, evil, madness, terror, rage."
  • Dead Star Walking: Bokeem Woodbine is the biggest name in the cast, and his character dies before they even reach the village when he is gunned down by German troops in front of Boyce.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Chase, after being injected with the serum. First, he accidentally tosses another soldier across the room. Then, he shatters a support pillar with his head. Then he breaks his own neck. Then the really freaky stuff starts happening to him.
  • Dwindling Party: Most of the paratroopers don't even make it out of the jump alive. Only six make it that far, and only three survive the film.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Ford, who self-injects with the serum in order to fight Wafner.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Everyone gets one on the plane. Tibbet is caustic. Chase is amiable and more concerned with photographs then fighting. Ford is distant and gruff. Boyce is meek.
  • Event Title: Refers to Operation Overlord, which our heroes are involved in making sure goes off without a hitch.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Wafner's dialogue turns into outright schlock when he injects himself with the serum, which his actor was grateful for.
    Pilou Asbaek: You know what? It's actually a good line. I've been using it and quoting myself. You know, every single time when you've finished a film, there's always one line where you go, "Okay, this is so over the top" — especially in Overlord, which is destined to be over the top. And that is exactly that line. "How does it feel… the blood of eternity… flowing through your veins?"'' How do you get away with saying something like that? That's why I love it so much.
  • Evil Laugh: Wafner lets out one of these moments before Boyce blows him up with an explosive canister.
  • Evil Is Petty: One of the German soldiers spits a loogie on Paul's baseball just to be an asshole.
  • Facial Horror: Wafner is shot in the face, leaving his mug torn apart for about half the film.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Eldson: "Any of you guys got a cigarette? Goddamn last re-"
  • Faux Affably Evil: Wafner puts on a thin veneer of gentlemanly politeness initially but it quickly becomes clear that he's a vicious and repulsive rapist and killer in addition to a true believer in the Nazi cause.
  • Feel No Pain: Anyone injected with the serum. Demonstrated with disturbing results by Chase after he is brought back by the serum.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Before they jump, Rosenfeld tells Boyce he hopes they don't drop in the midst of a German patrol, because he is a Jew and afraid of what they might do to him. We later find out that the Germans did indeed capture him, but brought him back to the village alive for use as a live test subject. Fortunately, Boyce saves him.
    • Boyce and Ford witness an SS patrol murder Rensin in cold-blood shortly after hitting the ground, instead of just taking him prisoner. Given what we learn later about the target village, it seems the Germans aren't taking any chances.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dr Schmidt has this going for him.
  • Friendly Sniper: Tibbet, if only for a special kind of friendliness. He still is the most outspoken and jovial of all the characters.
  • Ghostapo: It's never explained why the tar under the village can bring people back to life but Those Wacky Nazis sure are taking advantage of it anyway.
  • A God Am I: Wafner, after injecting himself with the serum.
  • Gorn:
    • If Wafner's fate is any indication, yes.
    • The flak the Americans take as their plane flies over Normandy more or less rips apart anyone it touches in the most graphic manner possible.
    • Chase breaks his own neck, takes an entire magazine to his chest and ultimately is killed by bashing his head open with a riflestock. All of which is shown in detail.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The survivors ultimately omit the truth about both the serum and the experiments that were going on in the village, painting the entire thing as just an ordinary mission, as both Boyce and Ford realize that this kind of technology is best left destroyed and buried away. This is emphasized by the fact that, after the survivors set out under Ford, the two soldiers who document their experiences (Dawson and Chase) are the first to die.
  • Healing Factor: The serum is able to resurrect people from the dead in mere seconds and healing fatal wounds as evidenced by Chase standing up after being perforated by Ford's Thompson and Wafner's facial wound slowing closing up.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ford willingly stays in the church to ensure that the existing Nazi test subjects are destroyed, and to ensure the Allies don't get ahold of the serum either.
  • Herr Doktor: Dr. Schmidt, complete with round glasses and a butcher's coat.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Tibbet. It doesn't really matter if he's using a sniper rifle or his service pistol, he will hit the target. In the case of the pistol shots, the distance seems to be no factor for him, either.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Don't worry, nothing happens to Paul.
  • Ironic Echo: Given both ways. Ford beats the shit out of Wafner and asks him "What's behind those walls?" to which Wafner retorts with "Fuck you." When the two face off once more, Wafner returns the favor by hanging Ford by a hook and beats the shit out of him while repeating his interrogative question. Ford also retorts with "Fuck you."
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Ford attempts to pummel information out of Wafner.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Ford may be a brutal commander who often belittles Boyce, but when he realizes the scale of the Nazis' experiments, he sacrifices himself to destroy the compound.
    • Tibbet is a Sir Swears-a-Lot who is exasperated by what he perceives as the incompetence of his fellow soldiers and Paul for some reason taking a liking to him. Ultimately, he has a soft-spot for both and is willing to put his life on the line to protect them, even if he's teasingly condescending about it.
  • Jump Scare: Lots, usually of the 'scene fades to silence first' variety.
  • Just Hit Him: After Wafner gains Super Strength, he spends a lot of the film simply tossing Americans around rather than breaking their bones with a punch.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ford's decision to torture Wafner is treated with moral scorn by the other soldiers, but Wafner is so heinous that we don't feel sorry for him.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Nazis dispose of their failed experiments with flamethrowers. Chloe later uses one while a more successful one pursues her.
  • Losing Your Head: One of the Nazi experiments that Boyce finds in the lab is a woman's severed head and spine, still alive and begging for death.
  • Made of Iron: Wafner after he injects himself with the serum. He takes a full clip from an M1 Garand, gets impaled by a sharp piece of a pipe, and gets blown up by a gas canister. He finally dies when the entire facility gets destroyed by the explosives planted by the heroes.
  • Meaningful Name: The movie's title comes from Operation Overlord, the real-world codename for the Battle of Normandy.
    • Boyce's first name (Edward) means 'guardian.' Ford's first name (Lewis) means 'renowned warrior.'
  • Mercy Kill: Ford kills Chase when it becomes apparent that the serum is destroying his body and mind.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Mission to destroy German radio tower —> Nazi experiments to produce undead super-soldiers.
  • Nazi Zombies: Subverted. The plan is indeed to create "thousand year soldiers" for the "thousand year Reich", but none of the creatures we see are actually zombies in the traditional sense or Nazis. Even Wafner wasn't dead when he injects himself with the serum.
  • Nerves of Steel: Sergeant Rensin and Corporal Ford are the only ones who aren't freaking out even a little as the commandos' plane is being shredded by flak fire.
    Rensin: Didn't I tell you ladies I'd show you a good time?!
  • Nightmare Face: Wafner's is certainly horrifying, what little remains of it. Even when it starts to grow back, it's in a mutated form, leaving him with sharp teeth on one side of his mouth and a swollen, misshapen face.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: Ford recognizes that neither the Allies or the Nazis should have the serum, convincing Boyce to destroy the church with him inside it.
  • Not So Different: The Allies are susceptible to corruption as well, such as when Ford uses the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, to the horror of his comrades. Ford is ultimately the one who realizes that the serum should not fall into Allied hands either.
  • Not So Stoic: Ford tries to apply Unusually Uninteresting Sight to everything around him, from the horrors of the battlefield to his own men getting killed in front of him. But even he had to do a Double Take and be weirded out by what Chase thinks is the remains of a jackal. He is also just as creeped out/horrified as everybody else in the room when Chase comes back to life after Boyce administers the serum. And that's even before the serum's 'side-effects' begin to kick in...
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Chloe feigns ignorance of English for a while to ensure that the American soldiers are good guys. Luckily for them, they don't pull a Bilingual Backfire.
  • Obligatory War-Crime Scene: Rensin is shot dead by German soldiers despite being unarmed (therefore, under the Geneva Convention, a POW). Later, one of the German is used by the Americans in an unwilling suicide attack on his own side.
  • One-Word Title: Overlord.
  • The Oner:
    • The parachuting scene, where the plane is torn apart by ground fire and Boyce is literally thrown into the fray.
    • One where Boyce is running out of the facility for dear life as the explosives he and Ford set up brings it down around him.
  • Oracular Head: Boyce encounters one of these when exploring the lab, and he is pretty freaked out by it. The head is of a French woman who keeps repeating the same phrase: "Arrêt, s'il vous plaît."
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The experimented are explicitly stated to have been deceased brought back to life by Schmidt's serum, but Came Back Wrong with healing factors, Super Strength, and gruesome Body Horror. Some of the experiments seen near the end of the film, while not that mutated, noticeably wander like traditional zombies. The serum itself isn't communicable through bites, and instead is derived from an unknown black tar that has been processed through the blood of the "volunteers". They are also not put down for good by shooting them in the head, requiring significantly more punishment.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Boyce escaping the church before the entire place blows up.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The commandos were just supposed to knock out a German radio tower, and are as taken aback by the human experimentation (and worse) occurring in the village as you might expect them to be.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Boyce gets one by proxy when it's revealed that he spared the life of a mouse during basic training.
    • After spending several scenes annoyed by Paul's attention, Tibbet gives the kid a stick of gum.
  • Playing with Syringes: Those Nazis are super guilty of this...
    Ford: What is this [red substance in the syringe]?
    Wafner: ...A thousand-year army needs thousand-year soldiers.
  • Politically Correct History: Not only does the film indulge in some Artistic License – History by integrating the paratrooper unit, but all of the white soldiers seem to be colorblind, as not one of them brings up the race of their sergeant or Boyce. The only problem they have with Boyce is his poor conduct during basic training.
  • The Quisling: One of Chloe's neighbors blows a literal whistle on her because she's out after dark.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Our heroes who are going up against way more Nazi forces. Lampshaded by one of them:
    "There's a lot of soldiers out there and there's only four of us."
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Wafner tries to rape Chloe, but Boyce stops him, forcing the commandos to take him prisoner.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: During the parachute drop at the beginning, composer Jed Kurzel reuses and edited in his track "The Med Bay" from his Alien: Covenant score.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: In keeping with the usual zombie portrayal, this appears to be the only way of killing supersoldiers except for being burned or blow apart-they shrug off anything less.
  • Reality Ensues: Most of the paratroopers (including ultra-badass Sergeant Rensin, although he at least makes it to the ground in one piece) are killed when the plane is riddled with flak-fire and blown in half over the jump zone. Only a handful men are able to link up on the ground and avoid the German patrols, and Corporal Ford has to take over the mission because he’s the only NCO that even makes it that far.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • When Wafner attempts to rape Chloe, Boyce defies orders and stops him from going through with it, risking his squad to detection by taking an officer hostage but otherwise fully gaining Chloe's trust.
    • After Paul is taken hostage by Wafner, Boyce refuses to follow Ford's orders and tells him to his face that they have to destroy the lab to prevent its horrors from getting out into the world.
    • At the end, Boyce and Ford decide the black tar is best left destroyed and buried away where nobody can find it, and Ford stays behind to make sure this happens. Boyce later misleads his superiors about the underground lab.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Implied when the soldiers arrive in the village, as they walk past burning crucifixes - as if the pit with the tar-like substance under the church had been sealed away by the church built on top of it - a seal that has now been broken by the Nazis.
  • Shown Their Work: Rosenfeld fires a captured MG-34, though his accuracy and rate of fire leaves much to be desired, and he must clear jams frequently. He correctly points out that the MG-34 is supposed to be crewed by two soldiers, one to shoot and the other to reload, ensure the rounds feed correctly, and change the barrel when it overheats.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Corporal Ford previously lost his entire unit in Italy, and is notably more morose and pragmatic then the rest of the squad.
  • Slasher Smile: Wafner gives us one that's even more horrifying than most because half his face is missing while he's doing so.
  • The Sociopath: Captain Wafner, a ruthless Nazi colonel who genuinely believes that everybody else is lesser than the Germans and exists to be exploited by them. He takes over a small French village and begins using the villagers as guinea pigs for incredibly painful super soldier experiments, viewing it as the only way to make them useful, using the threat of being taken away as incentive for him to brutalize and rape the townsfolk while he's at it.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Paul keeps pulling this off, much to Tibbet's annoyance.
  • Suicide Attack: The Americans use a captured German to launch an unwilling one on his own side.
  • Super Soldier: The intended result of the German experiments with the unknown substance they found and turned into a serum. It does enhance physicality and survivability, but it has the problem of making the recipients go insane. At least, the initial batches. When Wafner takes an updated dosage, he maintains his normal intelligence.
  • Super Strength: The German Super Soldier project results in men who can shrug off bullets, survive point-blank gasoline explosions, break wooden support beams with a light headbutt, effortlessly Neck Lift men in full combat gear, toss people around like ragdolls, pulverize walls with their punches, and so on.
  • Supporting Leader: First Rensin and then Ford end up in charge of the unit, but main character is Boyce, who's under their command.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Dawson is vaporized by a landmine in the middle of a sentence.
  • Tainted Veins: Anyone injected with the serum begins to exhibit these.
  • That Man Is Dead: Ford tells Boyce that Chase died the minute he was injected with the serum.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Marketing has made no effort to hide the image of Wafner with half his face blown off...and smiling.
    • The extended trailer has a scene where one of the commandos clearly states there are only four of them left, spoiling just how many of them make it into the target village alive. (Although they do later find Rosenfeld is alive and has been captured by the Germans)
  • Unobtainium: The black tar. It's only found under this one village in France and when refined with human blood creates a serum that Those Wacky Nazis hope to use to create super-soldiers.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A particularly long one shortly after the plane is hit at the beginning of the film.
  • War Is Hell: It is even before you bring the zombies into the mix.
  • Weird Historical War: WWII zombie super-soldiers, ladies and gentlemen!
  • We Need a Distraction: To provide an opening for Boyce, Ford and Chloe to sneak into the church, the others launch an attack on its main entrance, including turning a German soldier into an unwitting suicide bomber, in order to keep the Germans occupied.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Chase's last words: "What the hell did you do to me, Ed?!?!"
  • You Are in Command Now: Corporal Ford is forced to take charge of what's left of the unit.

"What's behind that wall? What do you do to those people?"
"...They have been given a purpose."

Alternative Title(s): Overlord


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