tv

"Netflix's new zombie drama Black Summer is way more traumatising than The Walking Dead."

If you’d like to know what it’s like to feel devoid of happiness, hope and general humanity, then by all means please watch Netflix’s new zombie drama, Black Summer.

The new Netflix original series takes place in suburban America and follows a group of survivors who are attempting to make their way to a military evacuation site as the world is in a state of disaster and fast-moving zombies are now tearing through the streets.

The first episode in the seven-episode series opens on a desolate street lined with forgotten friendly-looking family homes that now look foreboding and unwelcoming. Our first sign of human life comes onto the screen in the form of people, some families clutching hands and others running along alone with their heads down, quietly and furtively making their escape to some unknown destination.

This eerie silence is an unnerving storytelling device that is used throughout every episode of Black Summer, with long, tension-filled scenes, never once broken up with a background track or any hint of ambient sound. So there is nothing on hand to give the audience some form of relief.

Take a look at the gruesome trailer for Netflix’s Black Summer.

Video by Netflix

When a series of military trucks appear on the scene we finally know where this group of terrified survivors are rushing to, in the midst of the zombie-filled chaos there is only one safe refuge left to flee to and these trucks are the last ticket out of town.

At the front of the anxious pack of people clamouring for safe harbour is Rose (Jaime King), but when her husband is denied entry to the evacuation vehicles, due to a suspicious looking wound on his stomach, her young daughter is ripped away from her and the rest of the survivors are left their standard.

Left on her own, Rose soon joins up with a small group of fellow refugees, all with brutal backstories, as they attempt to make their way through the now hostile environment to their loved ones at the refugee centre.

Despite numerous TV shows, movies and books still being flooded with different takes on zombie lore and story arcs, these decaying creatures are still very much having their moment in the pop-culture sun.

The Walking Dead is still one of the most-watched shows in the world, despite now moving into its tenth season and has spawned the popular spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead, an upcoming trilogy of films starring Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and a newly announced scripted series that will be set in the same world.

ADVERTISEMENT

But unlike The Walking Dead, there are no sweeping romances or heartfelt moments of unlikely friendship to be found in Black Summer to give you episodes of light amongst the darkness. And I use the word “darkness” here both figuratively and literally, as not only is the show emotionally bleak, it’s also shot in a way that will make you believe the lighting guys just took the whole week off. So don’t panic that your TV is on the fritz, the show really is that gloomy.

The new Netflix series lacks the comedic edge of films like Zombieland or even the entertaining gore-filled action of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. 

Instead, Black Summer is a small-screen exercise in looking at what a potential zombie apocalypse would actually look like for civilians during those first panic-filled weeks. There are few acts of valiant heroism and just a whole lot of desperation, jump scares and brutal deaths.

So just a warning that if you get attached to the majority of characters in the first few episodes of the series, you’ll likely see their blood strewn corpses littered across your TV screen moments later.

I thought I had a pretty strong stomach for televised violence and horror but during the first episode of Black Summer, I found myself hitting the pause button and walking away from the screen at least five times to give myself a break from the gore that was unfolding before me.

It’s a strange feeling to watch a show, even one as oddly and darkly captivating as Black Summer, and not feel the urge to root for any of the characters to live. It’s not that they are unlikeable, and more do with the fact that their unrelenting suffering is hard to watch over an extended period of time.

Due to the fact that, much like The Walking Dead, the zombie virus appears to be airborne, as soon as the characters die they immediately ‘turn’ meaning that everywhere the survivors attempt to hide, a roadside diner, a primary school or in one horrifying scene an air vent, it can turn into a bloody death trap in seconds.

If you want some old school zombie horror, then Black Summer is for you. If you want to sleep at night I suggest popping on a soothing Disney movie after ingesting it, just to chase the desolate horror from your mind.

Black Summer will be available to watch on Netflix on Thursday April 11.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here). 

00:00 / ???