Spoiler-Free Review of “Black Summer” on Netflix: More than a Prequel to “Z Nation”

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“You can’t be immortal if you ain’t alive.”  A valid point for sure, but how is one actually defined as a member of the undead these days?  While we are all used to the slow moving walkers in The Walking Dead universe, the infected we see in Black Summer sort of have a 28 Days Later vibe, as they move much quicker, which may have you contemplating your own cardio workout to stay prepared.

So are they actually zombies or are they something else?  Either way, if you are craving some zombie apocalypse fun, you’re in the right place.  Black Summer has been advertised as a prequel to Z Nation, but the show actually can stand on its own and that’s how I plan on reviewing it.

The show currently features 8 episodes, all streaming on Netflix as of April 11th 2019.  It stars Jaime King, Justin Chu Cary, Christine Lee, Sal Velez Jr. and Kelsey Flower.  We follow these survivors and witness what occurs after the zombie apocalypse first takes place, as they all desperately try to make it to the stadium to find missing loved ones and some kind of sanctuary.

However, the threats keep coming, as our characters are tested again and again while the undead continues to threaten their survival.  But we also find that these characters have to watch out for each other as well, as it’s difficult to earn one’s trust during the zombie apocalypse.

The Pros:

Black Summer Sun
Image courtesy of Netflix

The episodes are the perfect length. 

The beginning episodes start out at about 40-45 minutes and as we move through the show, they actually shorten to 30 minutes and even 20 minutes, which makes binge-watching this show very feasible.  I watched the first episode on Thursday night and I finished up the show the following night with very little effort.

The transitions between characters are clever and well done.

Another viewer mentioned to me that these transitions sort of reminded them of Pulp Fiction and I tend to agree.  Credit on that goes to @NerdswithFriend on Twitter.  We have seen so many shows and movies that feature a zombie apocalypse and it’s difficult to stand out and truly make a story unique.  However, the clever fade-ins and transitions allow us to easily see things from different perspectives and it also helps quicken the pace of the show.

Some of the characters are absolutely fantastic.

While I was annoyed by some characters on the show, there are some standout performances.  Christine Lee as Sun is truly amazing and you will root for her even more than the main billed cast.  You may find yourself trying to determine who is going to make it and who will bite the dust, so to speak, but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that so many of the characters did not just mold themselves into the stereotypical roles we sometimes see. 

Some characters that you assume will make it, don’t, and others that seem so incompetent actually manage to scrape by, but I think that makes the show that much more entertaining.

Bone-chilling and terrifying moments.

There are some genuinely scary moments on this show and I found myself on the edge of my seat, not knowing what to expect.  Sometimes the moments come out of nowhere, but I think that makes them even more brilliant.  Maybe you will see some of the moments coming, but I think that they deliver and I still have been replaying some of them in my mind, as I have just created a whole new set of nightmares for myself.

The Cons:

Black Summer
Image courtesy of Netflix

The moments following the zombies around.

So I appreciate that the show is doing something different with these zombies, as they sprint after you as soon as they are turned, grunting and moaning.  However, the noises are kind of jarring and distracting, as I found myself actually laughing several times when we followed around a zombie who was looking for their kill.

The show is meant to be serious so I know that this was not intended, but I just couldn’t take some of these zombies seriously.  I don’t know if it was the acting or if was the amount of time we spent actually following them, which made me focus on this so much more, but it was slightly underwhelming and it took away from some of the initial scares.

The fluff in between the terrifying moments.

I’m all for character development and I’m not saying that the show needs to be jam-packed with zombies attacking, but I often found myself bored in between these moments.  Some episodes are much better than others, but I think that the lack of background music during these moments really made this worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought that the lack of background music was brilliant during the moments where the characters were under attack, but how long do we need to follow someone walking in silence?

There are major plot holes.

I know that this a prequel, but I found several plot holes throughout the show and I was hoping to get some answers, but I realized that this was not going to happen once I got to episode 6, which was slightly disappointing.

So am I in or out? 

Black summer 6
Image courtesy of Netflix

I was initially very excited to watch this show because I absolutely love anything with zombies.  However, after watching the first episode, I was slightly disappointed.  Fear not, as I give all shows three episodes to start making a real assessment and the show did get better with each episode.  However, I think that the show had a lot of potential to be absolutely brilliant, but it decided to settle comfortably as a standard zombie apocalypse show instead. 

I’m not really sure if this show truly separated itself or provided us with anything new about the apocalypse, but it definitely had some terrifying and compelling moments. 

If you love shows about zombies, I definitely recommend it and even if you don’t, you may find yourself intrigued for a quick binge-watch.  However, I wouldn’t say that you need to move it to the top of your watch list, but the show had a lot of redeeming qualities and captured enough of my attention to make it an entertaining watch for sure.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Black Summer in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

**I am so excited to announce that my book, The Search for Alice, is now available!  If you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery, then this might be the book for you or someone you know!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I hope you enjoy!

The Search for Alice is available here!

The Search for Alice Feb 2019

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Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

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