How the war was redone
What the hell is Overlord, the mysterious J.J. Abrams produced World War II mash-up?
IT’S A WAR MOVIE
Overlord borrows its title from Operation Overlord, the codename for the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. Director Julius Avery explains that it’s “quite literally the jumping-off point”, as the film opens on a team of American paratroopers leaping from a burning plane on D-day. Nazis are handy bad guys — “There’s nothing better than watching Nazis get blown up,” Avery notes — but once our heroes land, the film veers sharply into a fictional alternate history.
IT’S AN ACTION MOVIE
“I love intense, physical action,” says Avery, and as the Ac/dc-soundtracked trailer hints, the emphasis here is on riotous B-movie fun. “I really wanted to put the audience inside the action and feel like they’re riding shotgun with the soldiers.” The film’s opening set-piece takes the form of an unbroken long take from the point of view of lead character Boyce (Jovan Adepo). “The whole thing was done in camera,” Avery says.
IT’S A SCI-FI HORROR MOVIE
The Americans encounter a Nazi lab, setting the scene for what Avery describes as “completely bonkers” supernatural horror. He’s not revealing the specifics, but notes with glee the rubber latex sacks that Nazis would put people in were too terrifying even for the stuntmen. “One lost his nerve,” Avery recalls. “He was like, ‘You can throw me out of a moving car, you can set me on fire, but I’m never going back in that thing.’”
IT’S (PROBABLY) NOT A CLOVERFIELD MOVIE
Rumours still persist that Overlord is part of the Cloverfield universe; as recently as February, producer J.J. Abrams refused to confirm or deny whether it was the fourth entry in his succesful alien franchise. But since then it has been flatly denied by both producer and now director. “This is not a Cloverfield movie,” Avery says, firmly. The final word, then. Or is it just misdirection? OVERLORD IS IN CINEMAS FROM 7 NOVEMBER
Empire spoke to director Julius Avery on the phone from Queensland, Australia, on 14 August.
Clockwise from main: Game Of Thrones’ Pilou Asbaek as Willis; Mathilde Ollivier runs for her life; You want to get that seen to, mate.