'Overlord' Pits Allied Troops Vs. Nazis, Zombies

Jovan Adepo and Dominic Applewhite star in "Overlord." (Paramount Pictures)

World War II. D-Day. Nazis. Zombies. IMAX!

Somehow the deliriously crackpot horror thriller promised by that absurd combination is never realized.

Instead, director Julius Avery goes for a mostly nonstop intensity accompanied by loud portentous music, bellowing kettle drums and a cast that seems to be vibrating to an invisible tuning fork.

"Overlord" opens amid warring skies in a military plane over France. American paratroopers are to parachute into a key village and destroy the church steeple to protect the massive beach landings at dawn on June 6, 1944, that will unleash the final push to defeat Germany's Nazis.

But the plane is destroyed in heavy shelling and few troopers live to reconnoiter in mine-strewn fields.

As they secretly but not silently enter the French village, only one -- Wyatt Russell's Cpl. Ford, who is in charge -- seems serious about destroying that church steeple. The photographer is averse to being killed, the cynic (John Magaro), a walking cliche who seems to have stepped out of every World War II movie ever made, doesn't see the point.

Then we have saint-like, compassionate Boyce (Jovan Adepo), who doesn't care about orders! He cares (deeply) about people.

"Overlord" -- the actual code name the military had for the D-Day invasion -- presents the Nazis, led by the pug-faced, sadistic Wafner (Pilou Asbaek), as the hideous tyrants they undoubtedly were, raping, pillaging and worse.

The soldiers have bonded with (spirited, beautiful, spunky, English-speaking) local French girl Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), whose aunt, quarantined in an upstairs bedroom, resembles a monster from hell.

She is the living proof of Nazi Dr. Schmidt's (Erich Redman) "experiments," which include injections, being baked in an oven and who knows what else.

As the countdown nears and the steeple must be destroyed, "Overlord" manages to mangle so many cliches -- we pause here for more portentous music! -- as hyperactive Boyce, Ford, Wafner, Chloe and Schmidt run around and around to the inevitable explosive happy end.

Never realistic, much less scary, "Overlord" is an example of trying too hard and being, if anything, sublimely ridiculous.

("Overlord" has hideous corpses reanimated, grotesque facial wounds that seem inspired by Lon Chaney's "Phantom of the Opera" amid much clanging and banging and hanging.)

This article is written by Stephen Schaefer from Boston Herald and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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