I love when a movie subverts expectations. In the lead to Overlord’s release, the movie was made out to be a war movie with zombies. While there is plenty of both, it blurs the lines of each genre just enough to make Overlord an action-thriller I won’t soon forget.

What makes Overlord such an interesting film is that each part—the war and the zombies—stand on their own right. The film opens with an incredible sequence that features American soldiers flying straight into battle. This is where we meet the movie’s team of characters, and although they’re your typical war movie fare, they’re all well-developed and fully realized.

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Just when you think that their mission might go off without a hitch, things take a turn for the worst. Their plan is shot down—more like blown up—forcing everyone to jump out in a panic. The visuals, camera work, and sound combine to create a kinetic scene that will get your heart rate up. And it just continues to get crazier from there.

When some of the characters regroup, they head toward a tower that must be destroyed in order to complete their mission. Of course, getting through a French town that’s invested with Nazis isn’t so easy, prompting a new series of events that takes Overlord into horror territory.

The group of survivors soon learn that under the tower they must destroy, the Nazis are conducting wicked experiments in an effort to create a deadly army. This subplot is integrated into the main narrative so well that it makes you feel like this was actually part of history. It never feels campy or forced, adding to the stakes in a believable way.

All the while, Overlord makes you care about these characters, who are thrust into an unspeakable scenario. Once the Nazi experiments are introduced, their mission takes on an all new meaning, and it only heightens the film’s quality.

I’m not saying Overlord should win any major awards, but it’s so confident and assured in its approach that you come to appreciate how director Julius Avery is blending such different genres. Zombies seem to be less en vogue today, but Overlord’s expertly crafted story takes what would be an ordinary war film and provides viewers with a fantastic payoff.

The film is also funny without trying too hard. There’s a particularly fun relationship between one of the soldiers and a little boy that makes you root for their survival. That goes for every other character, too. When a death does occur, it doesn’t feel like a nameless soldier got killed in the name of war.

Maybe that’s where the beauty of Overlord really lies. It’s a reminder that war is hell while giving the people who lived through it human personalities, rather than just making them a cog in a much larger machine. Throw in some Nazi carnage and you have a unique film that’s done with confidence, making it a must-see movie if you’re a fan of genre-bending cinema.

  • Release Date: November 9
  • Box Office: $41.2 million
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
  • Director: Julius Avery
  • Starring: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Gianny Taufer