The zombie genre has been done so many times that I sometimes struggle to enjoy them anymore. What makes a zombie story unique? The Walking Dead focuses more on the human enemies. Resident Evil is about a scientifically created virus that mutates uncontrollably. 28 Days Later is like watching zombie super-athletes on steroids running like a Devin Hester Super Bowl kick-off. So why bother with Black Summer? What’s the catch? I’ll explain why this show is worth your time if you’re a fan of the zombie genre.
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.
What’s the Catch?
Black Summer is your typical zombie story. People die, they come back to “life” and eat other people. It’s simple enough. That sounds like literally every other zombie story right? What makes it different?
For starters, it doesn’t matter how someone dies, they become a zombie similarly to The Walking Dead. This trope is fun in this show because they explain it almost immediately. It adds an extra layer of drama very early on and the characters actually use it to their advantage. Without giving away too much, a certain group of survivors get trapped by a dangerous group of humans. They use the zombie “death” to help them escape.
The rate in which someone turns is bloody quick. In the opening episode, it becomes clear that after a death, the change happens within seconds. In films like Dawn of the Dead or Night of the Living Dead, the change isn’t nearly this fast. There is always a bite or scratch that goes with it and in this show that just isn’t the case.
The showrunners filmed and wrote this story in fascinating ways. I’ve always been a fan of uncomfortable camera angles in horror. For example in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, there is a scene inside Norman’s office well before the infamous shower scene where the camera is almost pointed straight up at his face.
It’s awkward, unusual, and makes the viewer uncomfortable. I got a very similar feeling with Black Summer. The photo below shows one of the many angles used in this show that point the viewer’s eyes straight. Series directors John Hyams and Abram Cox use angles like these so often in the show and you never really know if something is going to come from behind the main characters.
The show tells this story in quite a fun way as well. Through multiple individuals we see the same events take place until they all weave and come together. It’s a fascinating way to watch this group of complete strangers navigate the very beginning of the zombie outbreak. The characters in Black Summer are pretty generic zombie apocalypse characters. However, the actors do a great job and I didn’t really notice the blandness that typically comes with boring characters. These characters aren’t really boring either. The show tells the backstories of each individual mainly through dialogue and that works in this show. They took mild inspiration from Game of Thrones here as well because no single main character is safe!
Conclusion and Ponderation
I really enjoyed the first season of Black Summer on Netflix. It has a really creepy and realistic vibe to it. I started thinking about what we would do if this really happened. Where would we go and what would we do? Would the government really have it controlled like they undoubtedly would tell us they do? Do we really know our neighbors and neighborhood the way we think we do? Can we trust anyone but ourselves? All these questions and many more are brought up in Black Summer. This show is fun and the first season is only eight short episodes. It’s well worth your time and makes me want to ask you: would you survive?