Produced by Asylum and set in the same zombie apocalypse as Z NATION, BLACK SUMMER (2019) is a Netflix series about a group of people trying to find sanctuary as the military pulls out and society collapses from the rapidly spreading infection. I picked away at this one all year, finally finished it, and found it overall good stuff but difficult to stay committed to.
There’s an interesting storytelling technique happening here; basically, it’s BUSHWICK with zombies. The idea is to follow a group of people individually and eventually all together, with Rose being the lead, a woman who must get to the evacuation center at the stadium in order to reunite with her daughter. There’s little plot other than characters either react to zombies or proactively fight for what they want as they travel from point A to B. The presentation style is pretty realistic and extremely tense, with very long takes, long stretches of moving with no dialogue, and people being terrified and aiming poorly and making mistakes exactly as they would in this type of crisis. I enjoyed this aspect the most, as it makes even a single zombie a seemingly unstoppable force, and it provides serious cathartic energy when the survivors get their thing together and achieve a victory. It also grounds the story nicely, as it’s quite believable. On the negative side, this is all you get; there’s very little going on character wise to make you care about any of these people, and they don’t dig very deep for the kind of ethical dilemmas that make apocalyptic fiction so interesting.
Overall, BLACK SUMMER was a fun watch for me, and I’d happily recommend it to zombie fans. Nothing super memorable, but definitely tense, engaging, and realistic.