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JJ Abrams: Double the horror when WWII meets monsters in Overlord

Producer J.J. Abrams says Overlord is mashup of war and fantasy horror genres

With only hours until D-Day, a team of US paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that is crucial to the invasion's success.

Tasked with destroying a radio transmitter atop a fortified church, the desperate soldiers join forces with a young French villager to penetrate the walls and take down the tower.

But in a mysterious Nazi lab beneath the church, the outnumbered soldiers come face to face with enemies unlike any the world has ever seen.

Directed by Julius Avery, Overlord - which opens here tomorrow - stars Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbaek and Mathilde Ollivier.

Here, Hollywood uber-producer J.J. Abrams, the 52-year-old US film-maker best known for helming Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Trek, talks about how he was "gripped" by the project from its first page.

On the premise of Overlord

The thing I love most was that it took a classic World War II adventure movie and mashed it into a monster horror film.

And the idea of those two co-existing felt like it could be an incredibly intense and fun ride.

And the thing about a war story is, you don't need more monsters than humans.

In that world, the horrors of war are already there.

So you suddenly get into this freakish sort of fantasy horror level, and it doesn't feel like that much of a stretch.

What I felt reading the script was that it could be beautiful and as intense as a straight war movie.

But it also had the potential of going to a place clearly in the realm of horror science fiction.

I just thought that combination done right could really hit the sweet spot.

On what his production company Bad Robot brings to the story

One of the things we try to do (when it comes to) genre stories is tell stories that are as much about the people and the characters as possible, but they often go into places and things happen that are clearly impossible, clearly extreme, clearly horrific, and freaky and bizarre.

While not everything we do has monsters in it, this one does.

I feel like monster movies are great and best when you believe the situation, you believe the characters, you're truly invested, and you get something that is, while rationally impossible, because you love the characters, because you relate to them, you believe the world, you believe the situation, and it's that much scarier.

On having an ensemble cast

The most important thing with any ensemble, and this certainly is one, is how do they all work together.

You had a lot of people that you had to keep track of, and it was just important that everyone stand out, have their own distinct personality.

I think you really follow each one of them and have a sense of their personalities, individually, by the end of the movie.

But of course, having the group was really important.

You needed to believe that they had been, in some cases fighting together before, in other cases, in this group for the first time.

You needed to feel their energy and their dynamic, and we were very lucky with this cast.

On the look and feel of Overlord

It has got a big and beautiful production vibe.

Part of that is the set designs, and some of it is the fact that we were at these awesome locations.

The village that they go to, Cielblanc, while it was a set that was built, has I think an incredible look and feel to it.

When they go into the lair underneath the church on the hill, what you find down below really is creepy and terrifying.

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