With many different versions of post-apocalyptic series and movies out there, it constantly feels like we are seeing the same thing over and over. A zombie virus breaks out, people die, others struggle to survive, and humans fight one another to get an advantage of some sort. All the series seem repetitive. However, Netflix’s Black Summer, created by Karl Schaefer and director John Hyams, has a more realistic take on the classic zombie genre.
Created as a companion series for Z Nation, Netflix’s new series is not a joke and there is definitely nothing to laugh at. It’s brutal, unfiltered and all about survival. It brings forth the real changes and challenges that humans must face in order to survive.
Though we have seen an abundance of zombie films and shows, Black Summer brings us something completely different. Although it only gets a rating of 67/100 from Rotten Tomatoes and 6.4/10 on IMDb, I think that some critics haven’t really given the show a chance considering it is something in the zombie genre we really haven’t seen before.
The first scene of the series is executed perfectly, with around six to seven minutes showing a scared swarm of survivors trying to get to safety. It attempts to make you feel like you are in the panic and terror alongside the characters.
With episodes ranging anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, they are broken up into smaller chapters, portraying a different perspective of a character or a different location. Though this is something we haven’t seen in many zombie shows, it does lacks a huge storytelling aspect as it bounces back and forth all the time. If more of a storytelling aspect was introduced, it might add more substance to the characters.
It has become interesting to see that the characters you meet at the beginning might not last long, while the secondary characters alongside those first characters are the ones who continue to lead the story on. Needless to say, if you look up for a few seconds, you might have just missed what happened to a main character. You most definitely need to pay attention. This all portrays the realness and unsettling experience of the storyline.
In other series in the genre like The Walking Dead, we see zombies who are slow moving and easy to take out but Black Summer is the total opposite. These post-apocalyptic animals are tougher than you might think. Fast-running, determined and smart zombies have given the typical zombie a revamp. Another thing that is incredibly different about the zombies in this series is the virus itself. When someone dies it instantaneously turns them into zombies. They are only down for moments before they are up and running. Characters only have a split second to leave a friend or a loved one behind in order to survive. In other series, the process of changing from alive to dead is unbearably slow. It makes for some really interesting scenarios.
The show makes you feel like you are surviving with the characters. One scene in the show involves a character named Lance who tries to evade the same zombie for approximately 15 minutes of real time. The scene may be long but makes the series even more realistic as viewers have to sit through the real-time experience with the character on screen.
With a wide variety of characters, there is not just one who stands out. During the series, you meet Christine Lee’s Sun. This character struggles through the world with not being able to communicate with others, as Sun only speaks Korean. We also experience this in a similar manner with Ryan, a hearing-impaired character. It adds to the element of terror and struggle. The character Lance, as mentioned earlier, is basically a wimp who accurately represents all of us at our weakest moments.
Black Summer is cruel, but never in a way that pushes you out of the story. It doesn’t have the gore aspect as much as other shows in its genre, which is a good thing for people who love them but can’t actually stomach the scenes.
Survival and family. Nothing is guaranteed. Realistically, if our world were to ever enter a post-apocalyptic era, Black Summer would relate very closely to an actual experience and life in the new world. The series takes the world falling apart at face value and gives viewers an honest experience. It is cold-blooded, harsh and terrifying, but also authentic. It gives a refreshing take on the classic zombie genre.