Monday, 29 April 2019

Black Summer

If you have ever watched the fun/gory Z-Nation on television on Netflix, you'll be pleasantly surprised that the same team behind that have gotten together to put on a great little miniseries in a zombie filled world. However, this time we have a series which is not only terrifying, but an amazing testament to the zombie genre as a whole.

This is the eight episode series Black Summer

Set six weeks into the ongoing zombie apocalypse, we follow a diverse cast of characters who are struggling to survive and find somewhere safe to run. We are first shown a trio of people on the run, waiting for the end of a bombing run in order to be evacuated to a safe zone. On the way, we see many other refugees on the run, and get introduced to a colorful and diverse cast of characters.

Things quickly go to hell though as we discover one of the trio has been bitten. The military immediately bugs out and drives off, leaving a mother and father suddenly without their child. From there, we play catch up as other characters moments intersect and converge, with many unintended consequences and struggles. But as a warning, don't get too attached to any of these characters, the show plays for keeps.

From the cowardly survivor Lance, mysterious Spears, to the non-English speaking Sun, we have a great little cast of characters who are unique and clever. Though having little or no background they aren't completely well rounded. They're acted amazingly though, putting you in their situation rather than their story.

They're not prepared for the apocalypse, at all, and it shows. Rarely are the zombies killed easily, and often they cause lots of trouble and only fail to kill people by their limited intelligence. That the world seems to be in its death throes doesn't help, as soldiers are overwhelmed and it seems all civil government has essentially broken down.

With its short run time, it's an easy binge. Though, with how scary some episodes are you may find yourself not wanting to binge watch!

Each scene is well shot, usually from a close angle which puts you right in the characters head space. We see their facial expressions, and can really feel the terror they are undergoing. The subtle use of music and ambient sounds makes you cringe. Something as simple as the background noise of an air conditioner really got my heart pounding at one point as I just expected a zombie to come running out at the characters on screen!

The conservation of detail too, with characters facing only one or two zombies at a time early on, made it really terrifying. Even one monster was too much to handle for most, and was a totally life threatening situation, even when a character was armed!

One particularly jarring episode takes place in a high school, and let me just say, if you think children are innocent, you may not think so after watching this! The use of little details to perturb, scare, and crank up your expectations really pays off at the end. It culminates in bits of creeping fear and a series of non stop chases which keep you guessing at who will live or die until the very end.

All in all, there isn't too much overarching story beyond a mother looking for her daughter during the apocalypse. That allows for some scant meaningful plot and leaves very little in the way of meaningful details to be examined as the story goes on. It's meant as a short piece which will tug at your brain and leave you wondering when the zombies will show up, or who is or isn't going to make it out.

As a brief horror mini series, I'd happily recommend it. It has all the right scares and all the right tension. Worth a watch.

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