Do not get Attached
I am a sucker for anything zombie related, but over the past few years, I’ve been feeling as though I have seen it all before and nothing has been able to keep my interest. Netflix’s Black Summer is a zombie show like no other. It is fast paced, intense, graphic through sound and imagination rather than gory visuals, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
A key to watching Black Summer: do not get attached. No matter how important you perceive someone to be, no one is safe. Unlike shows such as the Walking Dead, there isn’t a protagonist who the show revolves around – there are multiple personalities and sometimes, it’s not the most honourable or likable person who ends up on top.
Jaime King features as Rose, a woman searching for her daughter during the beginning stages of the zombie apocalypse. While King is definitely the most notable name, she is not the star; in fact, the entire series is viewed through chapters exploring people, locations and even the same event through different sets of eyes. These stories interconnect either bringing characters together or ripping them further apart.
A sense of realism is present throughout each episode with a strong focus on how people would react to a zombie apocalypse, the choices they would make, and whether their moral compass would get in the way of them making smart choices. The realistic approach taken by the show adds a sense of urgency that is missing from other zombie shows.
Two characters in particular have a much tougher time than the others: Christine Lee is Sun, and only speaks Korean, struggling to communicate with other survivors, relying on gestures and extremely basic English she picks up throughout the episodes; while Mustafa Alabssi stars as hearing impaired Ryan.
The cinematography associated with Ryan’s worldview is haunting and makes you realise how much we rely on sounds in dangerous situations – watching his inability to hear when danger was nearby made me yell at the television for him to turn around, watch out, or even to just stop.
Black Summer Gets to the Point
The eight episodes are short, meaning there is no room for fluff – they are pure action and suspense. One of the most terrifying aspects is how quickly people are willing to adopt the self-preservation mindset – saving themselves means turning on those around them, even if it means another person ends up dying because of it.
Kelsey Flower’s Lance is an exceptionally selfish character who manages to disassociate from all of those around him – he abandons his girlfriend to die, betrays those around him; he has a purely me vs. them attitude – and he has one of the longest and most intense chapters of the entire series. I couldn’t look away. I found that even though I didn’t want to like him, I could understand his motivations – it was all about survival and he would do anything to live.
The zombies of course play a part – but just like in any zombie medium, they end up being more of a frightening background than the real villains of the story. That said, these zombies aren’t the shuffling kind – they sprint, they chase, they can be tactical, and they are smart enough to work out how to get to their victims, no matter where they are.
The mode of infection is not disclosed, however it appears to be an airborne pathogen meaning that while a zombie bite will turn a victim, it is not the only way to turn the recently deceased. And, boy, do they turn quickly! Within seconds of death, a new zombie is born and they are fast, irritated and starving.
The show is brilliant in its execution. The concise story-lines keep viewers’ attention, the simplicity is unnerving. There were multiple times that I found myself yelling at my television – it was usually “go for the head!”.
I binged this series and my heart was in my throat the entire time – there is no down time, there is no coming to terms with decisions, the characters are forced to react and just keep going no matter how bleak things get. Black Summer’s realism forces a viewer to contemplate what they would do in these situations, how they would react, and how deadly the consequences can be.
Black Summer – Season 1 is available now on Netflix.
How did we rate Black Summer – Season One? 5 Sodas
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Writer, gamer and all around geek with a particular love D&D and board games.
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